Belmont University Research Symposium (BURS)

Publication Date

Winter 12-16-2022


Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, College of


History, Department of

BURS Faculty Advisor

Dr. Peter Kuryla

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation


This paper attempts to tackle state revisionism of monumental figures in American history through the case of Martin Luther King Jr., a radical who has been reimagined and whitewashed through conservative efforts for political purposes. I use examples of other historically revised prominent figures by the state to demonstrate the phenomenon. King's case can be connected to Derrick Bell and Critical Race Theory (CRT), an obscure legal study and fellow victim of conservative revisionism. I explore the history of CRT and show how the backsliding of the United States government coincides with a factitious honoring of diversity through cleansed figures like King. The paper showcases, through King's own words from his upbringing to the weeks before his death, his clear political orientation as a democratic socialist with an increasing pessimism for American institutions. The findings in this paper suggest a clear and conscious effort to reimagine prominent figures in American history to align with the interests of the state's self-preservation and conservative ideology.