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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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MLK Norway Radio Interview

Monday, November 9, 1964

Dr. King addresses the importance of the Chicago Adult Education Project and the impact it would have on the Lawndale community. Issues of discrimination, segregation, racism, and oppression have lead to constant riots and violence in this densely populated area. Dr. King submits the idea that, to cure the issue of the "ghetto", Americans and the government must work to eradicate the causes by offering better education, better housing, and fair wages instead of "anti-riot" legislation.

Morehouse Introduction to Philosophy Notes

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.

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.

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.

Friends Journal: A Quaker Weekly

Saturday, July 26, 1958

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 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."

Essay Outline by John Mates on Helmut Richard Niebuhr

Friday, April 20, 1951

John Mates contests the influence of Helmut Richard Niebuhr written contributions to the church through his congruent philosophy with Jesus Christ's message. Mr. Mates further discusses the churches relations to the societal influences of politics and economics.

Pilgrimage to Nonviolence

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

MLK's Graduation Picture From Boston University

Monday, June 1, 1959

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

Letter from Bronx High School Student Paul Kylar to MLK

Wednesday, May 31, 1967

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.

Non-Violent Procedures to Inter-Racial Harmony

Tuesday, October 16, 1956

In this early speech to a NY Universalists' convention, Dr. King lays out his nonviolence method, based on Gandhi's. He outlines five of the six principles he will use later. They are: active, courageous resistance; winning the moral conversion of the opponent, not defeating him; attacking the forces of evil, rather than the persons doing evil; using love to avoid "internal violence of the spirit"; and faith in the inclination of the universe towards justice.

Morehouse Board of Trustees Meeting

Tuesday, March 28, 1967

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 David Cole Gordon to MLK

Wednesday, October 11, 1967

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."

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.

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.

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.

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."

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 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.

Bibliography Compiled by MLK

This handwritten bibliography documents texts that discuss theology.

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 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.

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.

A Look to 1964

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.

Draft Speech for Atlanta Nobel Peace Prize Reception

Dr. King drafts a speech that he will make in Atlanta for the reception honoring his Nobel Peace Prize winning. In the speech he offers his gratitude to friends and family who supported him in his efforts. Dr. King also briefly discusses the issue of racial injustice and the continued fight for equality.

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."

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.

Bible 252

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

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.

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.