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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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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.

MLK Manuscript: Why We Can't Wait

This document reflects one page of the original manuscript of "Why We Can't Wait." "Why We Can't Wait" is a book by Martin Luther King, Jr. about the civil rights struggle against racial segregation in the United States, and specifically in Birmingham, Alabama.

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.

Request from Wm. James Stuart to MLK

Monday, June 14, 1965
Kentucky (KY), Alabama (AL), Montgomery, AL

Wm. James Stuart, a student, seeks the recommendation of books that helped Dr. King develop his own way of preaching.

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."

Science Surpasses the Social Order


Dr. King wrote this essay during his career at Crozer Theological Seminary in 1951. In the paper, he discusses the disproportionate growth of science and technology compared with that of the social order. Referencing the sociological term, Dr. King refers to this predicament as "cultural lag." He attributes this problem to the "lack of world brotherhood" and asserts that the survival of civilization depends on global unity. Drawing on Republican politician Wendall Wilkie and Prime Minister Clement Attlee, Dr.

Letter from Geraldine Ford to MLK

Saturday, December 28, 1968

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.

SCLC's Interest in the Chicago Education System

Chicago, IL, Birmingham, AL, Illinois (IL), Alabama (AL), UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

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.

Instructions for Honorary Degree Recipients

This document reflects instructions for Dr. King as the recipient of an honorary degree from Yale University. The program also includes some random handwritten notes by Dr. King and information regarding his seating arrangement.

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.

"Where Do We Go From Here?" Asks Negro King

Thursday, February 1, 1968
Atlanta, GA, Chicago, IL

In this article, Palmer Van Gundy reviews Dr. King's most recent book, "Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?." He calls the book a must for all Americans, naming Dr. King not just the greatest civil rights leaders, but also a "leader for peace with freedom and justice."

SCLC Newsletter: July 1963

Alabama (AL), Birmingham, AL, SOUTH AFRICA, Johannesburg, South Africa, New York (NY), Michigan (MI), Chicago, IL, Illinois (IL), Washington, D.C., Nashville, TN, Tennessee (TN), Georgia (GA), North Carolina (NC), Virginia (VA), Atlanta, GA

This SCLC newsletter features numerous articles written by members of the SCLC regarding Birmingham, Alabama. Also featured is a graphic story of the crisis in Birmingham.

Bible 252


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

Relation Between Esthetics and Science

Dr. King writes notes regarding "The Relation Between Esthetics and Science." King cites several philosophers, psychologists, and scientists, and their different theories regarding science, mathematics, art, and esthetics.

Plato Psychology

Dr. King explores Plato's contribution to psychology.

1964 Election


Dr. King explains "a sizable number of Negro voters" will register for the 1964 presidential election, recognizing the significance of political participation.

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."

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.


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.

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.

Letter from Sankey Blanton to MLK

Wednesday, October 3, 1951
Pennsylvania (PA), Boston, MA, Massachusetts (MA), Chester, PA

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.

Commencement Ceremony at Boston University

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

Letter from Helen White to MLK

Monday, July 31, 1967
Virginia (VA)

Ms. White seeks the opinion of Dr. King for her research on American Aristocracy.

The Dilemma of White America

Massachusetts (MA), GERMANY, Selma, AL, Birmingham, AL, Alabama (AL), Mississippi (MS), California (CA), Illinois (IL), VIETNAM, Chicago, IL

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.

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.

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 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.

Bibliography Compiled by MLK

Chicago, IL, Boston, MA, New York, NY

This handwritten bibliography documents texts that discuss theology.

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.