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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.

The Negro Past and It's Challenge for the Future

In honor of Negro History Week, Dr. King offers this speech on the black community's past and future in America.

Notes about Books

Dr. King opposes the existence of books that degrade the Negro image and falsely contribute to a "national brainwashing." He cites quotations from novelist John Steinbeck, which discourse on the "sacred" nature of a book.

Blue Spiral Notebook

Contained in this notebook is a draft of Dr. King's statement to Judge James E. Webb following his arrest during the Rich's Magnolia Tea Room Sit-In. There is also an outline of a letter to female students who were arrested during the sit-in. On other pages a child practices handwriting.

Letter from Geraldine Ford to MLK

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The president of the Oxford Union Society invites Dr. King to a debate that will possibly be televised by the British Broadcasting Corporation. The debate will discuss topics associated with the international race issue, injustice, discrimination and more. The president addresses the concerns surrounding the Black Power Movement in the United States and in Britain.

Saturday, December 28, 1968

MLK Norway Radio Interview

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Dr. King addresses the importance of the Chicago Adult Education Project and the impact it would have on the Lawndale community. Issues of discrimination, segregation, racism, and oppression have lead to constant riots and violence in this densely populated area. Dr. King submits the idea that, to cure the issue of the "ghetto", Americans and the government must work to eradicate the causes by offering better education, better housing, and fair wages instead of "anti-riot" legislation.

Monday, November 9, 1964

Letter from Boston University Graduate School

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Ms. Bessie A. Ring, a representative from the Boston University Graduate School registrar's office, highlights and outlines various changes that have been made to the leaflet on the "Preparation of the Dissertation for the Ph.D. Degree."

Friday, October 9, 1953

Syllabus for the History of Christianity

This document is a course syllabus for the History of Christianity.

The Martin Luther King Column

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

The Dilemma of White America

This early draft of the Racism and the White Backlash chapter of Dr. King's Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? explores the history and philosophy of white supremacy. King insists the current status of Negroes is the direct result of oppression by whites, who have developed delusional beliefs to justify their historic acts of colonization and slavery.

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 Danger of Misguided Goodness

Under the title, "The Danger of Misguided Goodness," the central message in these sermon notes is the need for all individuals to be morally conscientious.

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.

Bible 252

This exam from a course entitled "Bible 252" lists forty-eight questions regarding Biblical knowledge.

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.

Letter from Massachusetts Mental Health Center to MLK

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Drs. Myron Sharaf and Milton Greenblatt invite Dr. King to speak at the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' Department of Mental Health where the staff and researchers share an interest in ending "hate in social life."

Tuesday, January 16, 1962

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.

Commencement Ceremony at Boston University

This photograph shows a commencement ceremony at Boston University in June of 1959.

Morehouse Board of Trustees Meeting

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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

Syllabus in Preaching and Worship

This syllabus for the course "Preaching and Worship" details the topics to be covered during the course. The following key topics are included: The Preaching Ministry of the Church, The Preparation of the Sermon, and Worship.

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.

Negro Church Finest Hope for Christianity

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Ruth Haefner forwards a publication from The Pittsburgh Courier which states, "the newly militant Negro theologians in America, may perform the miracle of raising the dead (Western Christendom) to life." She further expresses her hopes that Dr. King may do the work of reviving the Christian spirit with a weekly letter featured in London press.

Thursday, January 18, 1962

Reviews of Strength to Love

These reviews of Dr. King's "Strength to Love" illustrate King's use of theological beliefs in conjunction with the struggle for civil rights reform.

The Great Empire During the Sojourn In Egypt

Dr. King contemplates the history of Egypt, noting that little is known about the time the Israelites spent there. At some point "Asiatic peoples," the Hyksos, invade Egypt and built a powerful empire known as the area of Syria and Palestine. Using horse and chariot technology the Hyksos conquered the land. Eventually, native rulers of Thebes in upper Egypt drove out the Hyksos.

Racism in the United States

Dr. King discusses the issues of racism, Jim Crow and nonviolence in this edition of Current. He further explains that, without the tactic of nonviolence, Negroes can become hostile and bitter. Throughout this issue several other writers are featured including Leslie W. Dunbar, Langston Hughes and Fay Bennett.

MLK's Examination Book for Bible Course

Dr. King writes this essay about the problems Habakkuk presents to Jehovah. He argues that God no longer judges humanity as a collective entity, but as individuals within humanity.

Letter from David Cole Gordon to MLK

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David Cole Gordon, Consulting Editor for American Humanist Association, requests that Dr. King provide an essay for their upcoming feature, "This is How I Live."

Wednesday, October 11, 1967

Outline Regarding Man

Dr. King's outline regarding a number of topics pertaining to Man and ones pilgrimage through life.

Invitation from Manitoba New Democratic Party

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B. Swailes, Provincial Secretary of the Manitoba New Democratic Party, extends a speaking invitation to Dr. King to discuss human rights.

Thursday, August 19, 1965

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