Biography

Clayborne Carson

I am a historian who teaches at Stanford University, where I also serve as founding director of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute. My latest book - Martin's Dream: My Journey and the Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. - is a memoir of my experiences during the half century since I attended the 1963 March on Washington.

The late Mrs. Coretta Scott King selected me in 1985 to edit and publish the papers of her late husband and, since then, I have devoted most of my professional life to the study of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the movements King inspired. Under my direction, the King Papers Project, a component of the King Institute, has produced six volumes of a definitive, comprehensive edition of speeches, sermons, correspondence, publications, and unpublished writings. I have also edited numerous other books based on King's papers.

A member of Stanford's department of history since receiving my doctorate from UCLA in 1975, I have also served as visiting professor or visiting fellow at American University, the University of California, Berkeley, Duke University, Emory University, Harvard University, the Center for the Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, the L'Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris, and at Morehouse College in Atlanta, where during 2009 I was Martin Luther King, Jr. Distinguished Professor and Executive Director of that institution's King Collection.

My writings reflect not only my research about King but also my undergraduate civil rights and antiwar activism, which led me to appreciate the importance of grassroots political activity as well as visionary leadership in the African-American freedom struggle. My first book, In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s, published in 1981, is a study of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the most dynamic and innovative civil rights organization. In Struggle won the Organization of American Historians' Frederick Jackson Turner Award. My other publications include Malcolm X: The FBI File (1991). I also co-authored African American Lives: The Struggle for Freedom (2005), a comprehensive survey of African-American history.

In addition to The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr., my other works based on the papers include The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. (1998), compiled from the King's autobiographical writings, A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. (1998), and A Call to Conscience: The Landmark Speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (2001).

My writings also include a play, "Passages of Martin Luther King," which was initially produced by Stanford's Drama Department in 1993, and subsequently performed at Dartmouth College, Willamette University, the Claremont Colleges, the University of Washington, Tacoma, St. Petersburg, and other places. On June 21, 2007, the National Theatre of China performed the international premiere of "Passages" at the Beijing Oriental Pioneer Theatre, and full houses viewed the four subsequent performances of the first drama to bring together Chinese actors and African-American gospel singers. During March and April 2011, the Palestinian National Theater "Al Hakawati" presented the first Arabic production of "Passages" in East Jerusalem, with additional performances in the West Bank communities of Jenin, Nablus, Bethlehem, Hebron, Tulkarem, and Ramallah.

In addition to my books and scholarly writings publications, I have tried to bring my research and King's ideas to broader public attention. I was a senior historical advisor for a fourteen-part, award-winning, public television series on the civil rights movement entitled "Eyes on the Prize" and co-edited the Eyes on the Prize Civil Rights Reader (1991). In addition, I served as historical advisor for "Freedom on My Mind," which was nominated for an Oscar in 1995, as well as for "Chicano!" (1996), "Blacks and Jews" (1997), "Citizen King" (2004), "Negroes with Guns: Rob Williams and Black Power" (2005), and "Have You Heard from Johannesburg?" (2010) a multipart documentary about the international campaign against apartheid in South Africa.

I collaborated with the Roma Design Group of San Francisco to create the winning proposal in an international competition to design the King National Memorial in Washington, D. C., and I have served as an advisor to the King National Memorial Foundation.

In my various roles, I travel throughout the world. In addition to many European nations, I have been to China (three times), India (twice), Israel and the West Bank (four times), Kenya, Zanzibar, Tanzania, South Africa, Senegal, Morocco, Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico, Canada, and a number of Caribbean islands.

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