Pressroom: The Power of Words

Learn how Martin Luther King Jr.'s words impacted a nation

January 20, 2010


Media Relations
Work(951) 827-3806

Ben Kamin never met the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. but he credits Dr. King with his decision to become a rabbi.

"The inspiration of his voice made me realize a clergy person can actually make the whole world his pulpit and turn social justice into a ministry."

Kamin, a nationally known clergyman, interfaith counselor and author of seven books and hundreds of articles, will be teaching a six-week course "A Critical Survey of the Speeches and Words of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Their Psychological and National Effect" through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute sponsored by UCR Extension.

Classes will run from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Wednesdays at the Annenberg Center for Health Sciences, 39-000 Bob Hope Drive, in Rancho Mirage beginning Jan. 27 and continuing through March 3. Osher classes are specifically designed for adults, 50 years and older.

The class will tell the story of the Civil Rights Movement, from 1955 through 1968, through selected words and speeches of Dr. King. Kamin will focus on the psychological and spiritual factors affecting and driving Dr. King's words throughout his lifetime.

"The course will portray that one inspired individual can actually change the course of a whole nation and value system by virtue of his words," Kamin said.

Students may be surprised to hear about Dr. King's personal struggles with spirits and depression that affected his outlook and what he had to say.

"This man lived 39 years and he produced more memorable words than presidents, kings and prophets, who lived well into their ‘80s and ‘90s," Kamin said.

Kamin was 15 when Dr. King was assassinated.  He chronicled his experience in a book titled "Nothing Like Sunshine: A Black-Jewish Friendship in the Aftermath of the MLK Assassination." Published by Michigan State University Press, the book is scheduled to be released in April and a documentary for Enduring Freedom Productions may follow if all goes well.

The book is a memoir of his high school years in Cincinnati where his friendship with a black student in the school band was shattered and rebuilt in the years after the assassination.

After years of serving a number of large Jewish congregations, Kamin decided to base his work on interfaith values. He and his wife, Audrey, founded "Reconciliation: The Synagogue Without Walls" in 2004.  As a private consultant, he counsels interfaith couples who want to get married, parents of interfaith children dealing with holidays and people who want to study Judaism or Christianity.

Kamin, who lives in Del Mar, recently launched a monthly PBS television talk show, "Reconciliation with Rabbi Ben Kamin," on KOCE-TV serving Los Angeles and Southern California. The show features one-on-one conversations with people who have dealt with a spiritual crisis like divorce or illness and how they resolved it from a spiritual point of view.

Having taught classes for UC San Diego Extension, Kamin said, "This is first chance I've had to teach a course about Dr. King and I'm really thrilled."

The Osher membership fee of $125 per quarter entitles students to take up to six classes at one location. A minimum of one class may be taken at a second location. Spouses or partners of members can become an associate member for a fee of $70, which entitles them to attend two classes during the same session as the member.

In addition to the Annenberg Center, Osher classes are held at the UCR Extension Center, 1200 University Ave., Riverside, and the UCR Palm Desert Graduate Center, 75-080, Frank Sinatra Drive.

Member benefits include: discounts on UCR campus programs; UCR Extension class discounts and notice of special field trips.


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University of California, Riverside
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UC Riverside Extension Center
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Riverside, CA 92507-4596

UCR Extension Center

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