Martin's Dream: My Journey and the Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

Overview

On August 28, 1963 hundreds of thousands of demonstrators flocked to the nation’s capital for the  March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. It was Clayborne Carson’s first demonstration. A nineteen year old black student from a working-class family in New Mexico, Carson hitched a ride to Washington. Unsure how he would return home, he was nonetheless certain that he wanted to connect with the youthful protesters and ...

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Martin's Dream: My Journey and the Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

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Overview

On August 28, 1963 hundreds of thousands of demonstrators flocked to the nation’s capital for the  March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. It was Clayborne Carson’s first demonstration. A nineteen year old black student from a working-class family in New Mexico, Carson hitched a ride to Washington. Unsure how he would return home, he was nonetheless certain that he wanted to connect with the youthful protesters and community organizers who spearheaded the freedom struggle. Decades later, Coretta Scott King selected Dr. Carson—then a history professor at Stanford University-- to edit the papers of her late husband.

In this candid and engrossing memoir, he traces his evolution from political activist to activist scholar. He vividly recalls his involvement in the movement’s heyday and in the subsequent turbulent period when King’s visionary Dream became real for some and remained unfulfilled for others. He recounts his conversations with key African Americans of the past half century, including Black Power firebrand Stokely Carmichael and dedicated organizers such as Ella Baker and Bob Moses. His description of his long-term relationship with Coretta Scott King sheds new light on her crucial role in preserving and protecting her late husband’s legacy.

Written from the unique perspective of a renowned scholar, this highly readable account gives readers valuable new insights about the global significance of King’s inspiring ideas and his still unfolding legacy

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this hybrid memoir and historical account, Carson, editor of Martin Luther King Jr.’s papers, records his personal journey through the turbulent civil rights movement and his changing views on its legacy. Having grown up in a suburban, mostly white community in New Mexico, Carson is swept into a growing involvement with activist groups after traveling as a teenager to witness the landmark March on Washington, where King makes his “I Have a Dream” speech. Carson’s “wide-ranging curiosity” and passion for the movement lead him to a career as a historian studying the African-American story, and in particular the legacy of groups like the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and leaders like Malcolm X. But once Carson has settled into a comfortable tenured position at Stanford, he gets a phone call that changes his life: King’s widow, Coretta, asks him to become the editor of King’s papers. Most of the book gets bogged down in exhaustive details about Carson’s administrative scuffles with King family members over their vision for King’s legacy and other, pettier, concerns. Still, Carson’s testament to the universal relevance of King’s ideas and the farsighted vision behind his emphasis on cooperation among people of all colors adds an insightful perspective on King’s mighty accomplishments. 8-p glossy b&w photo insert. Agent: Sandra Dijkstra, Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. (Jan.)
Kirkus Reviews
The founding director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute (Stanford Univ.) reviews his own life, tells how he became involved with the publication of King's papers and charts the complicated choreography of his relationship with the King family. Carson, who has edited numerous titles related to King and 1960s civil unrest (The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr., 1998, etc.), begins at the 1963 March on Washington when he witnessed King's "I Have a Dream" speech. The author ends with the 2011 opening of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, a project in which he was initially involved. In between these memorial moments are the stories of his own life--growing up in Los Alamos, moving to California, getting involved with student protests, meeting the woman he would marry, rising in academe--and of the day in 1985 when he received a call from Coretta Scott King asking if he would edit her late husband's papers. Some complicated negotiations ensued and essentially never stopped. His relationship with King's widow was complex, but with the son Dexter (and his siblings), it resembled something out of a very long Victorian novel. The relationships among the Kings were tricky, too--internecine even--and Carson treads softly on toes, even sort of siding with Dexter's contention that James Earl Ray was innocent. Carson proceeded to begin publishing King's papers and to get into print all sorts of other King-related collections. The author sometimes reveals a thin skin and cavils about his hurt feelings concerning things said or not said. A chapter about a Palestinian production of his play Passages of Martin Luther King features backstage spats and wounded egos. Compelling aspects of memoir and cultural history mixed with laments and self-defense.
From the Publisher
“Drawing from his personal journals and records, Carson offers a personal and candid account of his evolution from political activist into a self-described ‘activist scholar’ in his new book Martin's Dream.”—Black Christian News

“[Carson] details his work on the vast number of King documents he and his colleagues have assembled, his complex interactions with the King family and others, and his evolving view of Dr. King — from an African American civil rights leader to a farsighted visionary and revolutionary advocate for global peace, economic fairness and social justice. He also calls attention to the significant discoveries of the King Papers project that have received little public attention.”—History News Network

“The founding director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute reviews his own life, tells how he became involved with the publication of King’s papers, and charts the complicated choreography of his relationship with the King family. . .Compelling aspects of memoir and cultural history.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Carson’s testament to the universal relevance of King’s ideas and farsighted vision behind his emphasis on cooperation among people of all colors adds an insightful perspective on King’s mighty accomplishments” —Publishers Weekly

“A remarkably candid memoir. . . No matter how much you may think you know about the Civil Rights Movement, you will learn from Carson’s journey and will likely be surprised by the many challenges he faced as he struggled to define and to preserve Dr. King’s many contributions for posterity.” —Michelle Alexander, author of the bestselling The New Jim Crow

“Clayborne Carson’s compelling memoir is full of meaningful insights. This book is a must-read!”—Clarence Jones, author of Behind the Dream

“Clay Carson’s compelling personal story confirms Coretta King’s wisdom in entrusting the Martin Luther King papers to his care. We owe Clay a tremendous debt of gratitude for bringing us a richer understanding of Martin King and the philosophy of creative non-violence to which he gave his life. We are still on a journey to Martin’s ‘Beloved Community’ and we are fortunate Clay Carson has shared his own journey with us.” —Andrew Young, author of Walk In My Shoes

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230621695
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 1/8/2013
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Clayborne Carson is professor of History at Stanford University and director of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute, and also helped to design the King National Memorial. Selected in 1985 by the late Mrs. Coretta Scott King to edit and publish Dr. King's papers, Carson has devoted most of his professional life to the study of MLK. He has spoken about Dr. King and his legacy throughout the world, and has appeared on many national radio and television shows, including Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, CBS Evening News, The NewsHour, Fresh Air, Morning Edition, Tavis Smiley, Charlie Rose, Democracy Now, and Marketplace. Carson has also served as a historical advisory for numerous documentaries, including “Freedom on My Mind,” which was nominated for an Oscar in 1995.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: My Journey 1

Part 1 The Movement

Chapter 1 Alone at the March 7

Chapter 2 Leaving Home 15

Chapter 3 Finding the Movement in Los Angeles 27

Chapter 4 Bridging Racial Boundaries 35

Chapter 5 Voluntary Exile 51

Chapter 6 A Not So Ivory Tower 63

Chapter 7 SNCC's Legacy 75

Chapter 8 In Struggle 87

Part 2 The King Papers Project

Chapter 9 Keeper of the Papers 97

Chapter 10 Editing King 109

Chapter 11 Unwanted Discovery 123

Chapter 12 Atlanta Roots 135

Chapter 13 Passages 149

Chapter 14 Dexter's Vision 163

Chapter 15 In Coretta's Basement 173

Chapter 16 Autobiographer 185

Chapter 17 A Dream Deferred 199

Chapter 18 Transitions 213

Part 3 King's Legacy

Chapter 19 Memorial on the Mall 229

Chapter 20 Bringing King to China 245

Chapter 21 A Palestinian King Drama 253

Chapter 22 Obama's Conscience 269

Chapter 23 An Enduring Dream 281

Acknowledgments 289

Index 291

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