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January 11, 2011 > Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute

Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute

By Alissa Gwynn
Photo courtesy of

Studying Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy is "a unique opportunity to learn about one of the most important movements in history," according to Dr. Clayborne Carson, Director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University.

The MLK Research and Education Institute is relatively unknown to many in the Bay Area, yet it is home to one of the the only large-scale research projects focusing on an African-American: the King Papers Project. Since 1985, when Coretta Scott King first asked Dr. Carson to edit and publish King's work - papers, speeches, sermons, correspondence - the Project has published six volumes of The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr. and is working the 7th and 8th volumes. The 14th and final volume is projected to be completed by 2027.

"[The King Papers Project] is more complex than I ever would have imagined; it took eight years to get the first volume done...and I am still working 25 years later," said Carson. Staff members and student interns obtain documents from all over the world, transcribe interviews and speeches, digitize documents, and write explanatory annotations when preparing volumes for publication.

In addition to the King Papers Project, the MLK Research and Education Institute's mission includes a variety programs and activities aiming to educate the public about King's life and the human rights movements he inspired. Included among these activities is the Liberation Curriculum, which, according to its website, offers lesson plans aimed at "inspiring a new generation to achieve positive social chance...[and transforming] the way history is taught and perceived by students." In addition, the Institute offers the world's largest online archive of Martin Luther King, Jr. related documents and dramatic works.

"Passages of Martin Luther King," a play written by Dr. Carson and produced in 1993 by the Stanford Drama Department, has staged at churches, universities across America, and abroad with the National Theatre Company of China in Beijing in 2007. It was the first time African American and Chinese actors had performed on the same stage in China. Currently, the MLK Research and Education Institute is in the process of putting together a Palestinian production of the play.

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the King Institute will be hosting an Open House on Friday, January 14, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Dr. Carson will review the Institute's accomplishments over the past year, and there will be a book signing by King Institute Scholar in Resident and one of Dr. King's advisors, Clarence B. Jones. All are welcome to attend, and the Institution will be accepting donations of non-perishable food items for Second Harvest Food Bank or coats for One Warm Coat.

To learn more about the King Institute, or how to donate, visit

Martin Luther King, Jr. Research & Education Institute Open House
Friday, January 14
3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Cypress Hall D - 466 Via Ortega, Stanford
(650) 723-2092

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