Arc of History-ism
From Martin Luther King to Barack Obama—an idea of progress
After marching from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in the spring of 1965, Martin Luther King Jr. said that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” But it was Barack Obama who popularized his own version of King’s formulation, so much so that “arc of history” is now more commonly associated with the former president.
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What’s interesting is that while MLK was using the phrase to say something about America’s civil rights struggle, Obama expanded it a more generalized hope. It’s worth looking back at the full context. It wasn’t something he grew into, in time. It was the rhetorical anchor of his victory speech on that night of November 5, 2008, right at the beginning:
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