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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.

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Three Dimensions of a Complete Life

Sunday, April 9, 1967

Dr. King states that the key to an extended and fulfilling life is to live a life that is "three dimensional." He further identifies these dimensions as: "length, breadth and height." Dr. King proclaims these dimensions will ensure a life of self-love, community and love for God.

Error

This set of note cards written by Dr. King explores the causation of error. King quotes Alfred North Whitehead's "The Concept of Nature" noting several reasons as to the rise of error.

How My Theology Has Changed

Dr. King highlights seven main ways in which his theological views have changed since his final year at Crozer Theological Seminary.

MLK's Transcript from Crozer Theological Seminary

Wednesday, December 6, 1950

In 1948, Dr. King entered Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania. Engaging in a sincere quest for knowledge, he sought stimulation in the works of several prominent areas, like philosophy and theology. As a result of his efforts and achievements at Crozer, Dr. King was chosen as the Valedictorian of the graduating class of 1951.

Letter from Sankey Blanton to MLK

Wednesday, October 3, 1951

Sankey Blanton, of Crozer Theological Seminary, sends Martin Luther King, Jr. half of his fellowship grant for the 1951-1952 academic year. A second check will be sent when they have received his first semester grades and registration for the second semester.

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.

Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech Draft

Thursday, December 10, 1964

In 1964, Dr. King became the first African-American to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. At age 35, he was also the youngest recipient of the award to date. Emphasizing a philosophy of nonviolence, Dr. King writes this acceptance speech commemorating the courageous work of the Civil Rights Movement. He highlights the brutality faced throughout the United States and addresses the irony of accepting a peace prize on behalf of a movement that has yet to obtain peace.

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'."

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.

Outline Regarding Man

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

Those Who Fail To Speak

Saturday, June 5, 1965

Dr. King discusses the stagnant progress of desegregation despite the fact that a decade has passed since the Supreme Court's ruling on Brown v. Board of Education.

This is Dr. King's official transcript from Morehouse College for 1944-1948

Tuesday, November 7, 1950

This is Dr. King's official transcript from Morehouse College from 1944-1948.

Press Conference on Chicago Movement

Wednesday, July 7, 1965

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.

Letter from Massachusetts Mental Health Center to MLK

Tuesday, January 16, 1962

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."

MLK's Graduation Picture From Boston University

Monday, June 1, 1959

This photograph captures Dr. King in his graduation gown from Boston University.

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.

Social Philosophy Seminar Outline

Dr. King’s outline of key figures and their respective works for the Social Philosophy course he taught at Morehouse College during the 1961-1962 academic year.

Citation for MLK

Sunday, June 4, 1961

This document contains the passage read on the occasion of the conferral of an honorary doctoral degree from University of Bridgeport to Dr. King.

MLK's Address at the University of the West Indies

Sunday, June 20, 1965

Dr. King spoke at the Valedictory Service of the University of the West Indies in Mona, Jamaica in 1965. On his topic "Facing the Challenge of a New Age," Dr. King addresses the international movement towards peace and equality, stating that "the wind of change is blowing all over the world."

MLK's Examination Book for Bible Course

Tuesday, December 3, 1946

Dr. King writes six short essays for an examination in his Bible course.

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.

Thoughts on Nobel Prize

This draft of Dr. King's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech lends recognition to the nonviolent practices of those engaged in the fight for equality and civil rights.

The Boycott Explained

Saturday, April 10, 1965

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

Letter from Boston University Graduate School

Friday, October 9, 1953

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."

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.

The Purpose of Religion

Dr. King argues that the purpose of religion is not to "perpetuate a dogma," but to create witnesses to the power of God. He also considers whether salvation comes from upholding a particular creed or whether it comes from an individual reconciling with God.

The Martin Luther King Column

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

Letter from Morehouse College President to MLK

Saturday, May 7, 1966

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.

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.