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Martin's Dream: My Journey and the Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Hardcover – January 8, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From 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.)

Review

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

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (January 8, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230621694
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230621695
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,434,038 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I am a historian who teaches at Stanford University, where I also serve as founding director of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute. My latest book -- Martin's Dream: My Journey and the Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. -- is a memoir of my experiences during the half century since I attended the 1963 March on Washington.

The late Mrs. Coretta Scott King selected me in 1985 to edit and publish the papers of her late husband and, since then, I have devoted most of my professional life to the study of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the movements King inspired. Under my direction, the King Papers Project, a component of the King Institute, has produced six volumes of a definitive, comprehensive edition of speeches, sermons, correspondence, publications, and unpublished writings. I have also edited numerous other books based on King's papers.

A member of Stanford's department of history since receiving my doctorate from UCLA in 1975, I have also served as visiting professor or visiting fellow at American University, the University of California, Berkeley, Duke University, Emory University, Harvard University, the Center for the Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, the L'Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris, and at Morehouse College in Atlanta, where during 2009 I was Martin Luther King, Jr. Distinguished Professor and Executive Director of that institution's King Collection.

My writings reflect not only my research about King but also my undergraduate civil rights and antiwar activism, which led me to appreciate the importance of grassroots political activity as well as visionary leadership in the African-American freedom struggle. My first book, In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s, published in 1981, is a study of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the most dynamic and innovative civil rights organization. In Struggle won the Organization of American Historians' Frederick Jackson Turner Award. My other publications include Malcolm X: The FBI File (1991). I also co-authored African American Lives: The Struggle for Freedom (2005), a comprehensive survey of African-American history.

In addition to The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr., my other works based on the papers include The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. (1998), compiled from the King's autobiographical writings, A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. (1998), and A Call to Conscience: The Landmark Speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (2001).

My writings also include a play, "Passages of Martin Luther King," which was initially produced by Stanford's Drama Department in 1993, and subsequently performed at Dartmouth College, Willamette University, the Claremont Colleges, the University of Washington, Tacoma, St. Petersburg, and other places. On June 21, 2007, the National Theatre of China performed the international premiere of "Passages" at the Beijing Oriental Pioneer Theatre, and full houses viewed the four subsequent performances of the first drama to bring together Chinese actors and African-American gospel singers. During March and April 2011, the Palestinian National Theater "Al Hakawati" presented the first Arabic production of "Passages" in East Jerusalem, with additional performances in the West Bank communities of Jenin, Nablus, Bethlehem, Hebron, Tulkarem, and Ramallah.

In addition to my books and scholarly writings publications, I have tried to bring my research and King's ideas to broader public attention. I was a senior historical advisor for a fourteen-part, award-winning, public television series on the civil rights movement entitled "Eyes on the Prize" and co-edited the Eyes on the Prize Civil Rights Reader (1991). In addition, I 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?" (2010) a multipart documentary about the international campaign against apartheid in South Africa.

I collaborated with the Roma Design Group of San Francisco to create the winning proposal in an international competition to design the King National Memorial in Washington, D. C., and I have served as an advisor to the King National Memorial Foundation.

In my various roles, I travel throughout the world. In addition to many European nations, I have been to China (three times), India (twice), Israel and the West Bank (four times), Kenya, Zanzibar, Tanzania, South Africa, Senegal, Morocco, Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico, Canada, and a number of Caribbean islands.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By timcon1964 on March 10, 2014
Format: Paperback
In August 1963, 19-year-old Clayborne Carson attended the March on Washington and heard Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Scarcely appreciating that he was listening to one of the great speeches of the 20th Century, Carson then viewed it as “simply the last in a long program on a sweltering day.” During the speech he edged toward the back of the crowd in an unsuccessful effort to locate the bus that had brought him to the event. In fact, young Carson believed that reform had to come from the ground up—he was more attracted to young black militants than to older civil rights leaders. This book describes the surprising process that impelled him, despite these early attitudes, to spend most of his life seeking to understand King’s dream.

Carson’s life was shaped by improbable events. The unexpected offer of a faculty position at UCLA marked the beginning of his career as a historian. Carson had focused his doctoral dissertation on the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. He had not been a serious student of King, and had never met him. Thus it was a bolt from the blue when Coretta Scott King called him late one evening to discuss his interest in directing a project to publish the papers of her late husband. Carson’s initial inclination was to decline this position. But, realizing the impact he could have as the man most responsible for preserving King’s legacy and presenting it to the world, Carson reconsidered. Even after he agreed to take on the project, however, Carson had to contend with many challenges. These included the tasks faced by similar documentary editing projects—finding relevant documents, identifying the most important ones, transcribing them and, for the benefit of readers, explaining their contexts and the information they contain.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin A. Kamin on February 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Room 306: The National Story of the Lorraine MotelThe triumphant presence of the singular Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute and the King Papers collection on the campus of Stanford University belie the reality that Clayborne Carson's arduous journey of some nearly 30 years--which is narrated with candor and humility in this memoir--was at times painful, risky, and made tortuous by the internecine and maddening demands and dysfunctional contortions of the King family. There is no other living individual who has "lived" Dr. King's journey via his writings, papers, and even love letters to Coretta Scott King than Dr. Carson, the founder and director of the King Institute. One senses his cathartic release of both information and emotion. Written with passion, introspection, and restraint. Anyone who cares anything about the bittersweet Civil Rights saga must read this book--carefully.[...]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Antoinett C. Savage on February 13, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A good read, containing a lot of information about both the author and about Martin Luther King, Jr. I enjoyed it. If you are interested in history, I recommend it.
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Format: Hardcover
Historian, archivist and activist Clayborne Carson delves into the challenges of bringing order and scholarship to writings of one of the most important figures in the 20th Century and beyond: Martin Luther King Jr. While describing interactions with King family members and other scholars, he give us an insder's view without spilling over into a tell-all confessional, something rare in memoir writing. Carson has made invaluable contributions to countless students and scholars by creating and curating the King Institute at Stanford, in tandem with his wife, Susan Carson. Thanks to his clear, crisp writing, we can experience some of the efforts required in the days before instant communication was possible - dragging around old copy machines, traveling cross-country for meetings, and his iron-clad commitment to organize and preserve the King papers in an institution that could maintain access in perpetuity. I have long known about the Institute but reading about its founder and "birth pangs" make the accomplishment all the more impressive. Carson's own life from a 19 year old at the 1963 March on Washington to his success as a leading scholar is a journey that should interest a wide range of readers as well as students and scholars.
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By Robert Huttmeyer on May 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This memoir is an in insightful examination of the scholar and activist Clayborn Carson. Perhaps best known as editor of the Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr., this memoir explains King's influence on Carson and Carson's influence in disseminating the ideas of King. The book describes the role of the civil rights movement in his life and his contributions to that same movement. The book also sheds light on his experiences with the King family and their management of the legacy of King. This book is a first-person narrative of how the 60's civil rights movement opened doors for people that had been closed and how one person is still influencing the dream that was expressed almost 50 years ago.
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