Black historic and political figures have been rendered as vanquishing heroes as well. Noble, brave and transcendent, they have remarkable stories. We tremble in awe before the recounting of Frederick Douglass escaping from slavery and Ida B. Wells narrowly evading the Klan in Memphis, saving her own life — then, through her investigative journalism into the practice of lynching, saving the lives of countless others. Martin Luther King Jr., who survived threats, bombs and jail cells before falling to an assassin’s bullets, has been rendered as the ultimate hero. His depiction is messianic. And though he was a key member of a vast and complex movement, he is often presented as singular. This is the way we tell history in the American public sphere.