In this essay, I read the image of Martin Luther King Jr. in contemporary television as a site of anxieties about temporality, contemporary black politics, and charismatic black leadership. Reading a 2003 episode of The Twilight Zone through a black feminist analytic and in the context of a post-2000 public culture of mourning for slain black leaders, I argue that the resurrections of King in contemporary American television series reinforce normative notions of black nationhood based in inheritance and masculine authority. Extending Andreas Huyssen’s notion of “twilight memories”—generational memories that fade into the horizon as the lights of a modernizing urban landscape push them out of view—I argue that postmodern, or postsoul, African American culture is driven to a large extent by the twilight memories of civil rights-era charismatic leadership.
Erica R. Edwards; “Welcome Back to the Living”: Twilight Memories of Martin Luther King Jr. in Contemporary American Television. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 April 2013; 112 (2): 241–260. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-2020190
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