Clayborne Carson
Professor, History
Director, Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute

Office: Cypress Hall

Dr. Clayborne Carson has devoted his professional life to the study of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the movements King inspired. Since receiving his doctorate from UCLA in 1975, Dr. Carson has taught at Stanford University, where he is now professor of history and founding director of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute. He has also been a visiting professor at American University, the University of California, Berkeley, and Emory University as well as a Fellow at the Center for the Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford.

Past Publications
During his undergraduate years at UCLA, Dr. Carson participated in civil rights and antiwar protests, and many of his subsequent writings reflect his experiences by stressing the importance of grassroots political activity within the African-American freedom struggle. His first book, In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s, remains the definitive history of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the most dynamic and innovative civil rights organization. His other publications include Malcolm X: The FBI File (1991). He is co-author of African American Lives: The Struggle for Freedom (2005), a comprehensive survey of African-American history.

Current Project: Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project
In 1985 the late Coretta Scott King invited Dr. Carson to direct a long-term project to edit and publish the papers of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This project was initiated by the King Center in Atlanta and is being conducted under the auspices of the King Institute at Stanford in association with the King Estate. Under Dr. Carson’s direction, the King Papers Project, a component of the Institute, has produced six volumes of The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr. -- a projected fourteen-volume comprehensive edition of King’s speeches, sermons, correspondence, publications, and unpublished writings.

In addition to these volumes, he has written or co-edited numerous other works based on the papers, including A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. (1998); The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. (1998), compiled from the King’s autobiographical writings; and A Call to Conscience: The Landmark Speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (2001). The King Institute's enormously popular website -- -- reaches a diverse, global audience, and the Liberation Curriculum initiative that Dr. Carson conceived has become a major source of educational materials about King and the ongoing struggles to achieve peace with social justice.

Public Scholarship
Dr. Carson has actively worked to bring Dr. King’s message to a wider audience. He served as senior 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). Dr. Carson wrote “Passages of Martin Luther King,” a play that was initially produced by Stanford’s Drama Department in 1993, and subsequently performed at Dartmouth College, the Claremont Colleges, the University of Washington, Tacoma, and even at the Beijing Oriental Pioneer Theatre in China in 2007. Dr. Carson also collaborated with the Roma Design Group of San Francisco to create the winning proposal in an international competition to design the national King memorial now being built in Washington, D. C.

Related Links
Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute
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