5 Things I Learned Organizing the MLK Collection at Morehouse College

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(THE CONVERSATION) For the past 11 years, civil rights historian Vicki Crawford has worked as director of the Morehouse College Martin Luther King Jr. Collection, where she oversees the archive consisting of sermons, speeches, writings and other iconic documents belonging to King.

Few archives of historical documents compare to the importance of the Morehouse King collection. In addition to King’s life, the collection chronicles many major events that occurred during the civil rights movement.


Since joining Morehouse, Crawford says she particularly enjoys introducing King to younger generations and helping them understand the powerful lessons of the fight for social justice, especially how ordinary people organized and worked. for social change.

Among the countless things she has seen, read, and learned about King’s theology and civil rights activism, Crawford details five of the countless aspects of her life that stand out.

an avid reader

King voraciously read a wide range of subjects, ranging from “The Diary of Anne Frank” to “Candide”. Of course, he also read about theology and religion and philosophy and politics. But he especially loved literature and the works of Leo Tolstoy.

The Morehouse College Martin Luther King Jr. Collection includes approximately 1,100 books from King’s personal library, many of which are accompanied by his handwritten notes.

Some of the titles: “Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi”, “Complete Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar”, “Deep River: Reflections on the Religious Insight of Certain of the Negro Spirituals” by Howard Thurman, “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison, ” Kinfolk” by Pearl S. Buck and “Moral Man and Immoral Society: A Study in Ethics and Politics” by Reinhold Niebuhr.

Others include “Frederick Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom”, “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson, “Prison Notes” by Barbara Deming, “Killers of the Dream” by Lillian Smith and “Here and Beyond the Sunset” by Nannie Helen Burroughs. .

A famous writer

Following the 381-day Montgomery Bus Boycott, which began in 1955, King became a national figure whose ideas and opinions were highly sought after by book publishers, newspapers and magazines.

He became a prolific writer and wrote countless letters – arguably the most famous being ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail’ – as well as several books, among the most notable ‘Why We Can’t Wait’ and ‘Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos”. or Community? »

But many Americans may not know that he wrote a regular column in Ebony magazine, the leading national black publication at the time. In his “Tips for Living” column, he answered readers’ questions and addressed a wide range of topics, including personal questions about marital infidelity, gender identity, birth control, race relations, capital punishment and atomic weapons.

A follower of Gandhi

In 1959, King and his wife traveled to India, where King’s commitment to Gandhi’s nonviolent teachings widened and deepened. King always carried a note on a piece of paper with him that said “Gandhi speaks for us. …”

A music lover

Music was a big part of King’s life, beginning with his childhood experiences at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where his mother, Alberta Williams King, was the church’s organist. Alberta King introduced young ML, as he was known, to music as a child. Later he sang solos and sang with the church choir. While a student at Morehouse College from 1944 to 1948, Martin Luther King Jr. sang in the famed Morehouse College Glee Club as well as the Atlanta University-Morehouse-Spelman Choir.

After his marriage to Coretta Scott in 1953, King further expanded his musical universe. He met Coretta in Boston, where she was studying to become a concert soprano at the New England Conservatory of Music. Coretta introduced King to classical music. He came to appreciate both sacred and secular music and also enjoyed jazz and blues.

Some of King’s favorite hymns and gospels include “Take My Hand, Precious Lord,” “How I Got Over,” “Thank You, Lord,” and “Never Grow Old.”

King was also a friend of Aretha Franklin and her father, Reverend CL Franklin, and gospel singer Mahalia Jackson. King felt that music was a powerful part of activism and nonviolent protest.

A Nobel Prize

At the age of 35, King was the youngest person, the third African American and the 12th American, to win the coveted Nobel Peace Prize for his unwavering belief that nonviolence was an integral part of life. obtaining full citizenship rights for black people in America.

On December 10, 1964, King announced that he was donating Nobel Prize money to the civil rights movement.

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This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article here: https://theconversation.com/remembering-martin-luther-king-jr-5-things-ive-learned-curating-the-mlk-collection-at-morehouse-college-174839.

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