In 2013, former Muhlenberg professor Justin Rose gave a keynote address on campus, discussing the need for Muhlenberg to diversify and increase inclusion.
This week, Rose returned to campus to present his work on The Drum Major Instinct: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Theory of Political Science. The lecture was attended by President Kathleen Harring, the entire Political Science Department, Dean of Academic life Michele Deegan and many members of the Africana Studies Program. Rose, who is currently an Associate Professor of Political Science at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, taught as a visiting professor of political science and Africana studies at ‘Berg from 2012-2013.
Rose explained that Muhlenberg “helped me develop a love for the liberal arts.” Having previously desired to teach at bigger institutions, Muhlenberg helped Rose realize, “you don’t have to go to a large institution to make a big impact.”
“You don’t have to go to a large institution to make a big impact.”
After Congress designated Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a day of service in 1994, Rose lamented that there has been an “apolitical celebration of the King holiday,” which erases King’s “radical” views about political service in America.
Rose spoke about the quote once present on the MLK Jr. memorial in Washington D.C., which said “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.” Rose explained that this quote had been taken out of context, as it had originally said “If I was a drum major…” thus altering the perception of King, who according to Maya Angelou, then came off as an “arrogant twit.”
“[Martin Luther King Jr.] found a way to finesse the language that made it more relatable but no less potent.”
After Rose spoke about his book, he took questions from the audience. One student asked a question about racial inequality today. Rose responded saying that the country has begun moving backwards since the Civil Rights Era in terms of income inequality, housing insecurity and more. Rose who had not visited Allentown in 7 years, then proceeded to comment about his surprise at the changes downtown Allentown has undergone, saying “Who did they displace to build up Allentown?”
Political science professor Giacomo Gambino asked, “What lessons do you have for the practice of political rhetoric today?,” to which Rose responded “[Martin Luther King Jr.] found a way to finesse the language that made it more relatable but no less potent.”