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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.

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. Carson's scholarly publications have focused on African-American protest movements and political thought of the period after World War II. His other publications include In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s (1981); Malcolm X: The FBI File (1991); African American Lives: The Struggle for Freedom (2005, co-author); and a memoir, Martin's Dream: My Journey and the Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. (2013).

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. In 2005, Carson founded the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute to endow and expand the work of the Kings Papers Project. Under Carson’s direction, the King Papers Project has produced six volumes of The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr.—a projected fourteen-volume comprehensive edition of King's most significant speeches, sermons, correspondence, publications, and unpublished writings.

Dr. Carson also served as senior advisor for the award-winning, public television series on the civil rights movement, "Eyes on the Prize." In addition, he 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?" a multipart documentary about the international campaign against apartheid in South Africa.

Dr. Carson has lectured throughout the United States. His topics have included King, SNCC, Malcolm X, the Black Panther Party, Black-Jewish relations, and affirmative action. He has appeared on many national radio and television shows, including Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, CBS Evening News, Fresh Air, Charlie Rose, Tavis Smiley, and Marketplace.

Key works

" American Heritage. Spring 2009

The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr. Six volumes. Co-editor. University of California Press, 1992-2007

African American Lives: The Struggle for Freedom. Co-Author. Longman Publishing Group, 2005

A Call to Conscience: The Landmark Speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Grand Central Publishing, 2001

A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Diane Publishing Company, 1998

The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. Brown Little, 1998

Malcolm X: The FBI File. Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., 1991

In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakenings of the 1960s. Harvard University Press, 1981

Prof. Carson in the News

December 3, 2014
Interview with Clayborne Carson, professor of history and director of the Martin Luther King, Jr.,...
November 21, 2014
Clayborne Carson, professor of history and director of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and...
October 12, 2014
Clayborne Carson, professor of history and director of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and...
June 19, 2014
Clayborne Carson, professor of history and director of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and...
March 31, 2014
Clayborne Carson, professor of history and director of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and...
March 4, 2014
Clayborne Carson, professor of history and director of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and...
February 25, 2014
Clayborne Carson, professor of history and director of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and...
February 6, 2014
Clayborne Carson, professor of history and director of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and...
February 5, 2014
This story quotes Clayborne Carson, professor of history and director of the Martin Luther King, Jr...
January 20, 2014
Because of the accolades he received after his martyrdom, King is often viewed as a charismatic...
January 13, 2014
We are far from achieving Martin Luther King Jr.'s vision of social and economic justice, says...
Stanford Today Online, May/June 1996
Voice of America, January 14, 2010
San Francisco Chronicle, January 15, 2007
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, January 13, 2009
NPR, Talk of the Nation, August 26, 2010
Chronicle of Higher Education, January 18, 2008
New York Times, December 10, 2008
Newsweek, July 25, 2010
Stanford Daily, January 16, 2008
San Francisco Chronicle, January 20, 2009
USA Today, February 1, 2010
Stanford Daily, October 24, 2007

Expertise

  • Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Black Panther Party
  • Civil Rights Movement
  • Malcolm X
  • Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)
  • Nonviolent Protest
  • Black-Jewish Relations
  • Affirmative Action
  • Multicultural Education

Contact information

Education

B.A., University of California at Los Angeles, 1967
M.A., University of California at Los Angeles, 1971
Ph.D., University of California at Los Angeles, 1975