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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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The Boycott Explained

Saturday, April 10, 1965
Alabama (AL)

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

Temple Sholom Concert Forum Committee Announces MLK as Guest Lecturer

Chicago, IL, Illinois (IL)

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

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.

MLK Examination Blue Book

Friday, May 23, 1947

Dr. King used this "Blue Book" to record answers for a Bible exam taken on May 23, 1947.

Syllabus In Christian Education

This syllabus outlines the various elements of a course entitled "Christian Education" from Dr. King's experience at Crozer Theological Seminary.

Statements on Jobs and Poverty

Friday, November 6, 1964
New York (NY), New York, NY, Mississippi (MS), UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Pennsylvania (PA)

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.

Plato Psychology

Dr. King explores Plato's contribution to psychology.

How Do You View the Progress in School Desegregation?

New York, NY, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Lowndes County, AL, Philadelphia, MS

In this special for the New York Times, Dr. King shares his opinion on the progress made in desegregating schools.


Dr. King cites the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy regarding the topic of monotheism.

Crozer Theological Seminary Brochure

Chester, PA, Pennsylvania (PA)

This brochure provides information about Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania. The brochure lists full details of the campus, programs of study, and admissions.

SCLC Press Release

Monday, May 16, 1966
Boston, MA, Atlanta, GA, Massachusetts (MA), Georgia (GA)

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.

Morehouse Board of Trustees Meeting

Tuesday, March 28, 1967
Atlanta, GA

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

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."

Letter from Massachusetts Mental Health Center to MLK

Tuesday, January 16, 1962
Boston, MA

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."

Thoughts on Nobel Prize

Birmingham, AL, New York (NY), California (CA), Florida (FL), Philadelphia, PA, Mississippi (MS), Alabama (AL)

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 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.

MLK's GRE Scores

Thursday, February 1, 1951
New Jersey (NJ)

This report contains MLK's graduate record examination scores.

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

Tuesday, November 7, 1950
Atlanta, GA, Georgia (GA)

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

Seminar in Social Philosophy Notes

Dr. King records notes for his Seminar in Social Philosophy course. These notes consist of readings by and related to ancient Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle.


Dr. King writes on the topic of religion, stating that the people living in the 18th century regarded religion as "the source of both political tyranny and social conflict."

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.

Letter from Morehouse College President to MLK

Saturday, May 7, 1966
Atlanta, GA

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.


Dr. King references the religious philosopher William Ernest Hocking regarding the topic of evil.

Syllabus for the History of Christianity


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

Letter from Bronx High School Student Paul Kylar to MLK

Wednesday, May 31, 1967
New York (NY)

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.

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.

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 William G. Broaddus to MLK

Wednesday, August 30, 1967
Virginia (VA), Illinois (IL), Chicago, IL

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."

Abelard on Universals and theMethod of Descartes

Dr. King references Peter Abelard, medieval French philosopher and theologian. He discerns that universals cannot be things or words. Rather, the universal is a concept. King maintains that this quandary is relevant to "Schoolmen" and particularly the dogma of the Church. He continues by also noting philosopher Rene Descartes, and that "he was at fault in overemphasizing mathematical method."

May 17 -- 11 Years Later

Saturday, May 22, 1965
New York (NY)

Dr. King discusses the eleven years since the Supreme Court ruled that segregated schools were not constitutional in Brown v. Board of Education. He explains that it was not until the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that people began to understand the harms of segregation.