Cries of the unheard: state violence, black bodies, and Martin Luther King's Black Power

Darrius D. Hills, Tommy J. Curry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Martin Luther King believed that the civil rights struggles of Blacks were in one sense importantly American but also part of a worldwide movement against colonialism. As King once noted, Black Power is “the cry of the unheard.” Such expressions of angst extend themselves beyond U.S. borders and thus characterize the existential crises of all oppressed communities. Through this observation, King argues that this international perspective is the definition of Black Power and is a universal call for justice, which he engages as the transition from “thingification” to personhood. #BlackLivesMatter is the theopolitical demand for Black personhood, which we believe to be housed in King's philosophy of Black Power. Using interpretations of oppression from Black and womanist theologies, this article provides a reconfiguration of King's expansion of Black Power into global terrain and considers how this approach is timely, given the desensitization toward the killing of Black female and male bodies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)453-469
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Africana Religions
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2015


  • BlackLivesMatter
  • Martin Luther King
  • womanist theology
  • Black Power
  • Black nationalism


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