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Dr. King the Scholar

As a pastor and theologian, Dr. King modeled the life of a public intellectual. He was a consummate scholar, speaker and writer. Growing up the son and grandson of Baptist ministers, Dr. King was surrounded by opportunities for informal learning. In his life and studies, he had exposure to some of the nation’s brightest minds. He excelled in his days as a student at Morehouse College, Crozer Theological Seminary and Boston University. Dr. King knew the liberating power of education and this undoubtedly informed his efforts to make that power available to all children in America. This theme provides a selection of documents related to Dr. King’s life as a student and scholar.

Exam for Bible 252 at Morehouse

This is an exam for Dr. King's Bible course, which lasted from September 1946 to May 1947, at Morehouse College. Dr. George D. Kelsey was the professor. Dr. King's notes are in the margins.

Statements on Jobs and Poverty


Dr. King explains the relationship between violence and the lack of employment among young people. Dr. King also speaks of the Thanksgiving Fast for Freedom and its efforts to end poverty and hunger.

Friday, November 6, 1964

Letter from Bronx High School Student Paul Kylar to MLK


Paul Kylar, a student from the Bronx, writes Dr. King to convey support for his plea for peace. Kylar mentions that he attended a peace parade and how elated he is to know that Dr. King works for all people and not just Negroes.

Wednesday, May 31, 1967

Syllabus for Christian Social Philosophy II- Kenneth L. Smith

Dr. King earned an A in this course in 1951 and did his presentation on Jacques Maritain. This syllabus contains the reading requirements for the course and directions for a concluding presentation and report.

SCLC Press Release


This press release announces Dr. King's election as a Fellow of The American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The statement provides a brief history of the research center, including its affiliation with prestigious figures such as President John Adams and American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson. The release concludes with a brief biography of Dr. King.

Monday, May 16, 1966

Press Conference on Chicago Movement


Dr. King shares his acceptance of the invitation to spend some time in Chicago. During his time in Chicago, Dr. King and other SCLC leaders plan to assist local civil rights organizations in organizing rallies throughout the city.

Wednesday, July 7, 1965

Temple Sholom Concert Forum Committee Announces MLK as Guest Lecturer

Chicago's Temple Sholom encourages interested parties to reserve their tickets soon, given the widespread enthusiasm for Dr. King's upcoming speaking engagement.

The Martin Luther King Column

Dr. King addresses his concerns about the rise of anti-Semitism in Germany.

Letter from MLK Regarding Atlanta University Center

Dr. King writes to a woman concerning what he calls "the best Negro colleges in the South." He discusses the Atlanta University Center, which consists of Spelman College, Morehouse College, Clark University and Morris Brown College.

Problems of Esthetics

Dr. King writes class notes from his Problems of Esthetics course at the University of Pennsylvania around 1950-1951. He enrolled in the above class while attending Crozer Theological Seminary.

The Weaknesses of Liberal Theology

In this paper from his Crozer Seminary days, Dr. King discusses his thoughts regarding liberal theology, which he thinks is the most logical theology that exists. There are weaknesses, however, one being that it often loses itself in higher criticism.

A Look to 1964

This is a draft of the article "A Look to 1964" written by Dr. King. Published on January 1, 1964 in the New York Amsterdam News. In the article, Dr. King addresses the strides the African American people have taken towards the struggle for equality.

The Negro is the Most Glaring Evidence of White American's Hypocrisy

Dr. King shares the desire and need of American Negroes to have a social revolution for equality.

Promotional Article for Why We Can't Wait

This Harper released publication contains a preview of the religious books to be published in the summer and fall of 1964. Dr. King's "Why We Can't Wait" is featured with the byline "The 'Man of the Year' writes the 'Book of the Year'."

Letter from Morehouse College President to MLK


Morehouse College President Dr. Benjamin E. Mays appeals to Dr. King to contribute to the school on the occasion of the college?s 100th anniversary.

Saturday, May 7, 1966

Class Notes: Joshua

This eleven card series features Biblical verses from the Book of Joshua which Dr. King references under specific subject titles. The section titles range from "Knowledge" to "Passages for Homiletical Use."

Oberlin College Commencement

This issue of the Oberlin Alumni Magazine features commencement articles and photos as well as Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution, Dr. King’s address to the graduating class.

Bibliography Compiled by MLK

This handwritten bibliography documents texts that discuss theology.

The Martin Luther King Column: Life's Three Dimensions

In this self titled column, Dr. King writes about his theory of the three dimensions of the life: length, breadth and height. He refers to the "length of life" as an individual's desire to achieve personal goals. Next, he speaks of the "breadth of life," which is characterized by reaching out and helping others. Last but not least, Dr. King describes the "height of life" or a person's spiritual pursuit and connection with God. Dr. King asserts that in order to live a complete life, all three dimensions must be cultivated.

The Philosophy of Life Undergirding Christianity and The Christian Ministry

In this essay fragment from his Crozer Seminary days, Dr. King writes that Christianity is a value philosophy whose values are embodied in the life of Christ. He begins to spell out what those values are. The first, King states, is the value of the world as something positive and life-affirming, in contrast to the negative view of the world of the ascetics and religions of India. The second value is that of persons, who have supreme worth. People must be used as ends, never as means to ends, although there have been periods in history where Christianity has fallen short.

The Philosophy of Life

In "The Philosophy of Life Undergirding Christianity and the Christian Ministry," Dr. King references the abundance and reverence of a good life by noting the Biblical apostle John and the European theologian Albert Schweitzer. King notes that the minister plays an important role by providing leadership in experiencing the Kingdom on Earth.

Morehouse Board of Trustees Meeting


The Secretary of Morehouse College Board of Trustees, J. H. Wheeler, inquires if Dr. King will be in attendance for the annual meeting.

Tuesday, March 28, 1967

Essay Outline by John Mates on Helmut Richard Niebuhr


John Mates contests the influence of Helmut Richard Niebuhr written contributions to the church through his congruent philosophy with Jesus Christ's message. Mr. Mates further discusses the churches relations to the societal influences of politics and economics.

Friday, April 20, 1951

The Boycott Explained


Dr. King writes this article in the form of questions and answers to explain the purpose and impact of an upcoming boycott in Alabama.

Saturday, April 10, 1965

"Where Do We Go From Here?" Asks Negro King


In this article, Palmer Van Gundy reviews Dr. King's most recent book, "Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?." He calls the book a must for all Americans, naming Dr. King not just the greatest civil rights leaders, but also a "leader for peace with freedom and justice."

Thursday, February 1, 1968

MLK's Academic Record from Harvard University


This is an original copy of Dr. King's transcript from Harvard University, displaying his grades in two Philosophy courses.

Thursday, August 13, 1953

Letter from William G. Broaddus to MLK


The Editor of the Dicta column from The Virginia Law Weekly writes Dr. King to request a contribution to their "Law for the Poor" series. Mr. Broaddus states that an ideal article will discuss landlord tenant problems and offer solutions. He tells Dr. King that his work in Chicago "on the landlord tenant problem...[makes you] well qualified to write on this subject."

Wednesday, August 30, 1967

SCLC's Interest in the Chicago Education System

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference initiates improvement for Chicago's education system by making recommendations. It is believed that the inadequacies of education are not only a southern issue, but a national occurrence.

The Pastor and His Reference Library

Here is "The Pastor and His Reference Library" by Edward C. Starr. Starr served as librarian at Bucknell. Dr. King more than likely used this resource to conduct research and organize citations while attending Crozer Theological Seminary in Upland, PA.

Abstract of MLK's Dissertation "A Comparison of the Conceptions of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman"

Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.'s abstract of his doctoral dissertation in Systematic Theology at Boston University details the fundamental problem of evaluating the concept of God in the philosophical and theological thoughts of Paul Tillich and Nelson Wieman; methods of procedure implemented throughout his research; and his conclusions drawn from the teachings of Tillich and Wieman.