Clayborne Carson: Interview with Stanford

Historians in the News
tags: interviews, MLK, Clayborne Carson, Stanford

Stanford historian Clayborne Carson has been researching and documenting the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr. for nearly three decades.

From Carson's trip to Washington, D.C., in 1963 to hear King give his famous "I Have a Dream" speech to his personal relationships with members of the King family, Carson's involvement with the American civil rights movement has been much more than an academic pursuit.

In 1985, Coretta Scott King asked Carson to edit and publish her late husband's papers. Carson subsequently founded the King Papers Project, which is producing the definitive record of King's writings, from speeches and sermons to personal correspondence and unpublished manuscripts.

Drawing from his personal journals and records, Carson offers a personal and candid account of his evolution from political activist into a self-described "activist scholar" in his new book Martin's Dream.

In a conversation with Corrie Goldman of the Stanford Humanities Center, Carson talked about the book and his experiences.

After so many years chronicling King's life, what was the most challenging part of writing about your own experiences?

Although much of my career has been spent assembling the documentary records of King's life, I found it difficult at times to find the documents relating to my own activities as King's editor. The King Papers Project's records were not as well organized as the King Papers, but fortunately my notes and correspondence were stored in boxes. In recalling my own activism, I relied on the fact that I wrote many journalistic articles in the 1960s, and kept a journal at times. My thousands of photographs and recorded interviews also proved very useful....

Read entire article at Humanities at Stanford