The year is 1985. Ronald Reagan has been sworn in for his second term in office, “We Are the World” tops the charts, and here in the Bay Area, Stanford history professor Clayborne Carson receives a call from Coretta Scott King that will change his life forever. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s widow asks Carson to tell her late husband’s story through his papers. Carson is momentarily conflicted about accepting King’s request, even recommending more qualified individuals, but agrees to take on the hundreds of thousands of documents in her possession.
Carson is now director of Stanford’s Martin Luther King, Jr Research and Education Institute, publisher of Dr. King’s papers and author of “Martin’s Dream: My Journey and the Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.” For 28 years, he has immersed himself in Dr. King’s writings, publishing the “King Papers Project” — six volumes of speeches, sermons, correspondence, publications and unpublished writings. He founded the Institute in 2005 and later published his memoir.
Today Hana Baba speaks with Carson to better understand the man behind the Civil Rights Movement and his dream that America has yet to fulfill.
CLAYBORNE CARSON: He says, “What is going to be my mission as a minister? To deal with unemployment, slums, economic insecurity.” He doesn’t even mention civil rights.
Click the audio player above to listen to the complete conversation.