VCSR Flash-Seminar Series on Religion, Race, and Democracy
Professor Maurice Wallace to Speak on “The Cantor King: Architecture, Acoustics, and Martin Luther King Jr.”
November 5, 2018 | 12:00-1:30 pm
New Cabell Hall 236
To reserve a lunch, please rsvp to Tierre Sanford (firstname.lastname@example.org) by
On August 27, 1967 at Mt. Pisgah Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago, King
preached a sermon “Why Jesus Called a Man a Fool” based on a Lukan
parable. Considered one of King’s “great” sermons, the success of King’s
sermonic performance of “Why Jesus Called a Man a Fool” relied in part on
the acoustical design and sonic memory of the former Jewish synagogue
where the preaching event took place. This talk traces the early history of Mt.
Pisgah to two prominent Jewish Chicagoans, an architect, Alfred S. Alschuler
(1876-1940) and a rabbi, the “radical reformer” Emil Gustav Hirsch (1851-
1923). The space designed by Alschuler to maximize the dynamic preaching
of Hirsch at then-Sinai Congregation was acoustically well-suited to King’s
own “reform” preaching a half-century later.
The event is sponsored by the Virginia Center for the Study of Religion and
the Jewish Studies Program.