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Prof. Clayborne Carson

Director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Insitute, Stanford University,CA

Dr. Clayborn Carson is a Professor of American History at Stanford University and is Director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute. Professor Carson has devoted most of his professional life to the study of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the movements King inspired. He was selected in 1985 by the late Mrs. Coretta Scott King to edit and publish the papers of her late husband. Under his direction, the King Papers Project has produced seven volumes of King's speeches, sermons, correspondence, publications, and unpublished writings. Dr. Carson has also edited numerous other books based on King's papers. In 2005 the King Papers Project became part of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute at Stanford University, with Carson serving as the institute's founding director.


Dr. Carson is the author of several books including, Martin’s Dream: My Journey and the Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. (2013); In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s (1961); and Malcolm X: The FBI File (1991). He also co-authored African American Lives: The Struggle for Freedom (2005).


 Dr. Carson is widely known for his contributions to documentaries relating to the movements inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr. He was a senior advisor for the landmark documentary series, Eyes on the Prize, first broadcast during the 1980s. Since then, he has been involved in the making of more than two dozen documentaries, including Freedom on My Mind (1994), which was nominated for an Oscar in 1995; Citizen King (2004); Have You Heard from Johannesburg? (2010); Freedom Riders (2011); Black Panther: Vanguard of a Revolution (2015); and I Am MLK Jr. (2018), for which he served as Executive Director. He also wrote the play Passages of Martin Luther King" (1993), which was initially performed by the Stanford University's Drama Department and later by the National Theatre of China in 2007 and the Palestinian National Theatre in 2013. The latter production was featured in the documentary Al Helm: Martin Luther King in Palestine (2013).


Carson has received four honorary degrees, including one from Morehouse College, the institution once attended by Martin Luther King, Jr. as well as King's father and grandfather. Other awards include the Frederick Jackson Turner Award from the Organization of American Historians and the John W. Blassingame Award from the Southern Historical Association. In 2018 he received the prestigious International Award for Promoting Gandhian Values Outside India from the Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation in Mumbai, India.