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Exodus and LiberationDeliverance Politics from John Calvin to Martin Luther King Jr.$
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John Coffey

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199334223

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199334223.001.0001

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“I Have Seen the Promised Land”

“I Have Seen the Promised Land”

The Persistence of Deliverance Politics, 1865–2008

(p.180) (p.181) 6 “I Have Seen the Promised Land”
Exodus and Liberation

John Coffey

Oxford University Press

Following emancipation, there was a marked divergence between black and white discourses. For African Americans, the Exodus story still functioned as a narrative frame through which to interpret their travails following the failure of Reconstruction. Some sought the Promised Land through migration to Kansas or the North, though the major mobilization of Exodus rhetoric would occur during the civil rights movement, especially in the speeches of Martin Luther King Jr. When Barack Obama ran for the presidency in 2008, he depicted African Americans as standing on the verge of Canaan. White statesmen over the course of the twentieth century were far less likely to cite the Exodus story, but traces of deliverance politics can still be found in their foreign policy pronouncements, as they yoked together Providence and liberation in time-honored fashion. By the twenty-first century, the Religious Right and the Religious Left were struggling for ownership of the Exodus narrative.

Keywords:   civil rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr, American foreign policy, Religious Right

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