Fit for a King

Posted January 7, 2013 at 6:47pm

Since 1985, historian Clayborne Carson has been analyzing the personal papers of legendary civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr.

From delving into King’s early sermons to publishing the correspondence between King and leaders such as Ghanan leader Kwame Nkrumah, President Dwight D. Eisenhower and then-Vice President Richard Nixon, Carson has helped paint a comprehensive portrait of King’s life and work.

On Thursday, Carson will be in Washington, D.C., to speak about his new memoir, “Martin’s Dream: My Journey and the Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.”

The memoir, released Tuesday, focuses on Carson’s parallel journey to King’s, including witnessing King’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington in August 1963 and what he learned about the civil rights leader through analyzing his personal documents.

He also delves into his relationship with influential civil rights leaders such as King’s wife, Coretta Scott King, who personally chose Carson to study her husband’s papers, and Ella Baker, an influential activist who mentored leaders such as Rosa Parks and worked alongside King.

Carson, a history professor at Stanford University and director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute, will first speak about the memoir at an event at the National Archives at noon Thursday. The event is free and open to the public in the Archives’ William G. McGowan Theater. Following the event, Carson will sign copies of his book.

At 7 p.m. Thursday, Carson will head to Politics and Prose to speak about the book.