Themes

The Archive

Digital Archive brought to you
by JPMorgan Chase & Co.

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.

Explore another theme

Letter from David Cole Gordon to MLK

Wednesday, October 11, 1967
New York, NY, Atlanta, GA

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."

Pilgrimage to Nonviolence

Alabama (AL), Montgomery, AL, INDIA

Dr. King's essay "Pilgrimage to Nonviolence" provides a replete account of the thinkers, ideas and sentiments responsible for his pledge to nonviolence.

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.

Reviews of Strength to Love

Georgia (GA), Washington, D.C., Birmingham, AL, New York, NY

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 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.

Old Testament History Notes

ISRAEL, EGYPT

Dr. King records notes from the Old Testament of the Bible. Much of the focus is on Isaiah and the downfall of Jerusalem.

Book Fair at Hofstra University

Monday, March 13, 1967
New York (NY), Georgia (GA), Atlanta, GA

Mrs. Wilbur Scott requests that Dr. King donate an autographed book, picture or any memento for the Hofstra University Book Fair to raise funds in support of the new university library.

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.

Foreword of "The Power of Nonviolence"

Thursday, January 1, 1959
New York (NY), DENMARK, NORWAY, FRANCE, NETHERLANDS, GERMANY, SOUTH AFRICA, GHANA, Montgomery, AL, INDIA

This is a copy of a foreword written by Dr. King to Richard Gregg's "The Power of Nonviolence."

Oberlin College Commencement

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Washington, D.C., PUERTO RICO, VIETNAM, INDIA, Alabama (AL), Mississippi (MS), New Hampshire (NH)

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.

Letter from MLK to George Bass

Friday, June 17, 1966
Pennsylvania (PA), Philadelphia, PA

Dr. King responds to Mrs. George Bass' recent letter inviting him to speak at the annual convention of the Planned Parenthood Association. Dr. King regretfully declines the invitation because his schedule is booked for the entire month of January.

A Look to 1964

Alabama (AL), Birmingham, AL, Pennsylvania (PA), Philadelphia, PA, Georgia (GA), Atlanta, GA

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.

Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech Draft

Thursday, December 10, 1964
Philadelphia, MS, Montgomery, AL, Oslo, Norway, Mississippi (MS), UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Alabama (AL)

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.

MLK's Academic Record from Harvard University

Thursday, August 13, 1953

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

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.

MLK Outline on Preaching Ministry

Dr. King outlines the development of the preaching ministry. As an aspiring minister, Dr. King expresses how he wishes to develop his own ministry and provides ideas of the message he desires to share.

The Martin Luther King Column: Life's Three Dimensions

INDIA

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.

Where Do We Go From Here (Chapter V Draft)

Alabama (AL), Atlanta, GA, Birmingham, AL, Georgia (GA), New York (NY), Selma, AL, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

This draft of Where Are We Going?, Chapter 5 of Dr. King's book Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? was significantly edited before publication but the central ideas are here. The government's failure to develop economic justice programs cannot be blamed on the Civil Rights Movement's lack of ideas, as often claimed. Building the political will for change is more important for the movement. The rights of Negroes to economic well-being are well aligned with goals and tactics of the labor movement. Negro leadership needs to be developed from within the community.

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

Boston, MA, Massachusetts (MA)

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.

Strength to Love

Sunday, August 11, 1963
New York, NY, New York (NY), London, England, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

This is the printer?s proof of Strength to Love, Dr. King?s book of sermons that was published in 1963. He drafted three of the sermons while serving a fifteen-day jail term in Albany, Georgia. Although his editors lauded the first draft, they later deleted strong phrases about segregation, colonialism and capitalism and many of his statements against war. The collection includes some of Dr. King's most popular sermons, including: Loving Your Enemies, Paul?s Letter to American Christians, A Knock at Midnight, A Tough Mind and a Tender Heart, and Three Dimensions of a Complete Life.

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.

Friends Journal: A Quaker Weekly

Saturday, July 26, 1958
New Jersey (NJ), Philadelphia, PA, CANADA, MEXICO, London, England, Berlin, Germany, Indiana (IN), JAPAN, LEBANON, NORWAY, Geneva, Switzerland, TURKEY, Pittsburgh, PA, Richmond, VA, California (CA), Montgomery, AL, INDIA

Dr. King's article, "Nonviolence and Racial Justice" is included in this edition of the Friends Journal. Dr. King's entry discusses the various implications of race relations in America and the beneficial elements of nonviolence.

Letter from Boston University Graduate School

Friday, October 9, 1953
Boston, MA

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."

Promotional Article for Why We Can't Wait

Birmingham, AL

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'."

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.

Blue Spiral Notebook

North Carolina (NC)

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.

Morehouse Introduction to Philosophy Notes

FRANCE, Atlanta, GA

These typed notes from Dr. King’s early years at Morehouse College are for an Introduction to Philosophy course led by Professor Samuel Williams. King outlines the topic of highest ends: motive and standard, changing and unchanging morality, and reason and emotion that determine the standard.

Religion

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."

The Negro Past and It's Challenge for the Future

Boston, MA, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

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

Letter from MLK Regarding Atlanta University Center

Atlanta, GA

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.