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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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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.

Class Syllabus: Sociology of Religion

This portion of a syllabus lists the basic bibliography and outline for the Sociology of Religion course taught by Kenneth Underwood. Included are several well known authors that influenced Dr. King's studies, e.g. Paul Tillich and Reinhold Niebuhr.

Photograph of MLK Receiving Honorary Degree

Monday, June 1, 1959

This photograph shows Dr. King receiving an honorary degree from Boston University.

Out of Segregation's Long Night

Dr. King addresses the crisis of race relations in America by asserting that there would not be a crisis if blacks accepted inferiority and injustice. He also discusses the physical and spiritual harm that segregation and slavery has caused for blacks and the effect that violence has on the community. Dr. King closes with remarks regarding nonviolence and what it truly represents.

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.

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 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.

Letter from William G. Broaddus to MLK

Wednesday, August 30, 1967

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."

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.

Transcripts for Courses at Harvard University

Thursday, August 13, 1953

Lois Ryan forwards a transcript for two courses that Dr. King took while studying at Harvard University. These courses were Philosophy of Plate: Introductory and The Philosophy of Whitehead.

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.

Negro Church Finest Hope for Christianity

Thursday, January 18, 1962

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Invitation from Manitoba New Democratic Party

Thursday, August 19, 1965

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

JFK's Executive Order In Housing

Thursday, December 13, 1962

This document is a draft of an article, written by Dr. King, to be placed in the Amsterdam Newspaper. Dr. King breaks down the housing order signed into law by President Kennedy. He makes clear that housing discrimination is a large hurdle to ending segregation.

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.

Why We Chose Jail Rather than Bail

Dr. King cites seven reasons for choosing jail not bail. Among them is that ?the highest expression of nonviolence is self suffering.?

Bibliography Compiled by MLK

This handwritten bibliography documents texts that discuss theology.

SCLC Press Release

Monday, May 16, 1966

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.

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."

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.

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 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.

Where Do We Go From Here (Chapter V Draft)

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.

Foreword of "The Power of Nonviolence"

Thursday, January 1, 1959

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

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.