Claybourne Carson

Scholar, Author & Civil Rights Historian

Claybourne Carson

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Clayborne Carson has devoted most of 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 Martin Luther King, Jr., Centennial Professor of History and Ronnie Lott 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 publications include In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s (1981); Malcolm X: The FBI File(1991); The Struggle for Freedom: A History of African Americans (2005, 2010, 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project to edit and publish an authoritative edition of King’s speeches, sermons, correspondence, publications, and unpublished writings. Under Carson’s direction, the King Papers Project has produced seven volumes of The Papers of 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 King Papers Project.

Dr. Carson also served as senior advisor for the award-winning, public television series on the civil rights movement, Eyes on the Prize (1986, 1990). In addition, he has participated in the making of numerous other documentaries, including Freedom on My Mind (1994), which was nominated for an Oscar in 1995, Blacks & Jews(1997), Citizen King (2004), Have You Heard from Johannesburg? (2010), a multipart documentary about the international campaign against apartheid in South Africa, Freedom Riders (2011), and Black Panther: Vanguard of a Revolution (2015). The audio version of Carson’s edition of The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. won a Grammy award in 2000. In addition to his regular courses at Stanford, Carson also teaches an online open enrollment course, American Prophet: The Inner Life and Global Vision of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Carson’s musical play, “Passages of Martin Luther King,” was first performed by Stanford’s drama department in 1993 and was subsequently performed in various places throughout the United States. The international premiere of “Passages” was produced in 2007 by the National Theatre of China. In 2012 the Palestinian National Theatre performed an Arabic vision of “Passages” in East Jerusalem and other Palestinian communities. In 2014, a documentary, El Helm: Martin Luther King in Palestine (2013), recounted Carson’s effort to bring the play and bringing King’s nonviolent message to an Arabic-speaking audience.

In addition to his years of teaching at Stanford, Dr. Carson taught at the UCLA, the University of California, Berkeley, American University, Emory University, Morehouse College, and L’école des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris. He has lectured throughout the United States and in many other nations, including China, India, Senegal, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Jamaica, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, and France. He has appeared on many national radio and television shows, such as Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, CBS Evening News, Fresh Air, Charlie Rose, Tavis Smiley, and Marketplace.

Once you have submitted your booking request, our booking agents will work on our behalf to book Claybourne Carson, but in the occasion he is unavailable our team will provide you a roster of other business speakers that can deliver a keynote or make a guest appearance at your event. Our goal is to align you with a speaker like Claybourne Carson that will make your event unforgettable.

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