Stanford’s Prof. Clayborne Carson on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Civil Rights Vision & Legacy

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Dr. Clayborne Carson, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Centennial Professor of History Emeritus at Stanford University and the Founding Editor of The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr. He describes the larger political and spiritual lessons Dr. King and the other leaders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) sought to impart regarding nonviolent protest, and the complex relationship among Dr. King, the SCLC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and less well-known civil rights figures like the late Bob P. Moses. They discuss how hymns and literary works such as Langston Hughes’s 1951 poem “Harlem (A Dream Deferred),” strongly influenced Dr. King’s sermons and speeches. Dr. Carson compares how racial issues have differed in Southern and Northern cities, noting MLK’s 1966 Chicago Campaign. They explore whether K-12 U.S. history instruction sufficiently covers the Civil Rights era compared to other important periods, and Dr. Carson offers insights on how policymakers, schools, and parents can draw on lessons from the Civil Rights era to better understand race in America. He concludes with a description of the World House Documentary Film Festival, a free, four-day webinar and virtual film festival celebrating MLK, beginning on January 14th.

Stories of the Week: In London, staff shortages from a spike in COVID cases have forced many early education programs to reduce their hours of operation or close. In an era in which technology is replacing books, how can we ensure our children develop the habits that lead to lifelong reading? An EdWeek story explores this question, which is important because long-form and pleasure reading are linked with higher academic performance.


Dr. Clayborne Carson is the Martin Luther King, Jr. Centennial Professor of History Emeritus at Stanford University and Founding Director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute. Under his direction, the King Papers Project has produced seven volumes of The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr., a definitive edition of King’s speeches, sermons, correspondence, publications, and unpublished writings. He is also the author of numerous books on the Civil Rights era, including: In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s and Martin’s Dream: My Journey and the Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. A Memoir.

The next episode will air on Weds., January 19th, with guest, Ian Rowe, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where he focuses on education and upward mobility, family formation, and adoption.

Tweet of the Week:

News Links:

Nurseries in England hit by staff absences after soaring Covid cases

How to Nurture Lifelong Readers in a Digital Age


Get new episodes of The Learning Curve in your inbox!

Please excuse typos.

[00:00:24] GR: Hello listeners. This is Gerard Robinson from beautiful Charlottesville, Virginia. It is less cold than it was a week ago. I’m back in the house for the power and gas and all those goodies, but of course I can never cook without any real gas without my cohost. How was it up there?

[00:00:45] Cara: Cooking gas,

[00:00:46] I’m not sure, but love it. I’m so happy that you and your family are safe and sound at home. , how is it in beautiful Massachusetts? Well, I think that when you factor in the windshield today, we got to about minus [00:01:00] 10. So it’s winter. Yeah. Yeah. this is the only time I really regret getting it.

[00:01:06] I don’t regret getting a dog. Let me put it that. I just like, you got to walk the dog, the dog it’s really cold, but know this I’ve lived here for quite a long time. , so no things are okay. I will say Gerard have referenced it last week that I was afraid. We were like going back to 2020 and I have been.

[00:01:25] Feeling with my parent hat on, like, it is 2020, again, not because my kid’s school is closed, but because there are so many COVID cases that we’ve got these like isolated rolling classroom closures, and I’m really proud of my school and grateful to the folks who are doing the work of trying to isolate these cases and keep the kids who are.

[00:01:45] Coventry in school and keep the teacher safe, but it is like, it is insanity. So hoping we get through this soon. And, back to where we were, I would take like October 20, 21 sounds like a good place to be. [00:02:00] So other than that, I hope you guys are safe and healthy. , and I know we’ve got a lot of great stories to discuss.

[00:02:08] GR: Well, as you know, and of course our listeners would have found out I was actually scheduled to be in jolly old England this week. , my boss and I were, , invited to participate in a conference, held at Oxford university, , by the Jubilees. Which is how it was at the university of Birmingham in England.

[00:02:26] And because of COVID rampant through England, we had to cancel our event and they rescheduled it for the fall semester, which is totally understandable. But you were going to have a guest host today, and I know our listeners. When there’s a guest hosts or with you, because they can breathe. They’re excited.

[00:02:42] It’s not my same old voice. So you guys have to hear from me again this week, but this is in terms of my story of the week. It is actually about England and it’s about nurseries in England. They are hit. I’m pretty good with accents. That’s not one of them. [00:03:00] My youngest daughter Naomi’s , the, um, accident daughter.

[00:03:03] So if I had heard read it, you would probably enjoy it better

[00:03:05] Cara: next time. All right. I’m sorry for the interruption please.

[00:03:08] GR: Oh, no, no. Well, again, speaking of interruptions, we were interrupted from going to England, but you know, for good reason. And my story of the week is from the guardian and it’s titled nurseries in England, hit by staff absences after soaring COVID cases.

[00:03:23] And. Just like here in the United States, , Europe, , and we’ll just use the English as this example, they’re being hit, , at their schools as well, but rarely do we get a chance to talk about nurseries. And so, in fact, we’re going to visit a few nurseries when we’re in England, but they’ve had big hit and their nursery schools have been not only closed, but for those who’ve been open, they’ve been forced to, to reduce their hours.

[00:03:46] because. Some schools have lost a quarter or half their staff and thus far, , in terms of last week, 3,700 reports of, COVID cases. One week now [00:04:00] with the, with England, the court, like the United States, we have debates going forward between our education associations between government officials and parents, according to government figures that were published last week during the week before Christmas, , the government, we see 3,697 notifications of Corona virus in nursery schools, preschools, and what they call childminding.

[00:04:24] settings, which share would be early childhood learning. And each notification covers a single site and could represent more than one case. So when you jump ahead to the latest figures for our current month of January, , the government saw the number of peak to 2,707 in a single week. So the early year Alliance, which represents 14,000 members in that sector, Said that chronic reports are pretty high and that quote, it was no surprise that so many early learning centers are reporting, being forced to close or reduced hours, or even closed rooms and whole case [00:05:00] entirely related to COVID-19 cases.

[00:05:02] And so they’re having a conversation with their government about what’s safe when it’s safe to open schools, how long the schools closed and just like here in the United States. There are shifting priorities. Number one priority naturally to keep our faculty safe, our teachers safe, our students say we get that, but they’re trying to figure out what do local school systems or locals, individual schools what’s in their purview in terms of trying move things forward.

[00:05:30] So according to the same group, here’s an interesting quote, statutorily. Uh, , dope. The child ratios in early year settings ensure a high standard of care and education, but it makes it particularly difficult for this sector to manage staff absentees, which often occur at the last minute. We know here in the United States, this is a really big problem, , in big cities from New York to Philadelphia.

[00:05:55] All the way to small systems. So I just mentioned this story to put [00:06:00] in context that, this is something happening to one of our, , , ally countries, England. , they’re dealing with, there’s at least talking about it with nursery schools. We haven’t talked a great deal about it on the show. So I think it was worth mentioning, but, there are some lessons that we can do.

[00:06:14] from them there’s lessons, they can learn from us, but had I been there, I wouldn’t have had a chance to visit some of these schools, but I want to wish all of those who are in England, all of the, employees, staff, educators, who are working in, , their child might need. , good luck be safe, , condolences to those.

[00:06:32] Who’ve lost a family member either this year or last year. And the saying that we say to our educators and families, lawmakers here, let’s work together to move forward. What are your.

[00:06:44] Cara: I think, well, I’m glad you bring up this story for so many reasons. First of all, I hope you’ll be getting to England sometime soon and I’m probably gonna like pack myself in someone’s luggage to get out of here.

[00:06:52] But, a couple of things read. First of all, just as a student of ed policy, it’s always been so [00:07:00] fascinating to me to, , look at the similarities and differences between, , The English school system in particular, more so than the British system in general, but the English school system and what happens in the U S , part of my dissertation focused on, the English system with specific regard to sort of how they targeted resources to certain kids.

[00:07:18] but I think, , you’re pointing out , some of the pressures that they’re experiencing in the same sector, and this is something, , we haven’t talked about. About childminders in this country, on the learning curve. it’s something that, , you and I both think about a lot. , and , I think that especially we’ll see what happens in the coming year.

[00:07:37] It doesn’t look like, , the presidents build that better agenda among other things is off the ground yet, , within its provisions to help us think about how we serve little kids and how we serve those who serve little kids. , there are some. Challenges and benefits and, good things and risks all to be discussed.

[00:07:55] But this is a really important thing to have on our radar. And to your point, it’s just a critical [00:08:00] field. And, when we don’t have people to step in. Causes a ripple effects throughout the whole system. So thank you so much for bringing that story to our attention today. , I’ve got a story that’s I was looking for something, , , to bring a little bit of a smile to my face and maybe to make me feel better about myself chart, because I tell you like I said, being back in what feels like 2020, and trying to juggle work with, , making sure my kids .

[00:08:23] Don’t do bodily harm to one another and maybe like, say their alphabet, during the day they’re not doing remote learning when they’re home on quarantine, but, trying to keep them away from screens and such. this is an article about, , creating. Lifelong readers. And I consider myself to be a lifelong reader.

[00:08:42] Gerard. I know you are too. I read for pleasure all the time. In fact, I drive my husband nuts because I can’t fall asleep at night without reading. , but this is from ed week and it’s called how to nurture lifelong. In a digital age and it’s really, you know, we’ve had folks, we’ve had literacy experts and folks talking about the [00:09:00] benefits of reading aloud with children, et cetera, on this show.

[00:09:03] And we’ve also had folks talk to us about, , this new age, this digital age that we’re living in and risks and benefits of it. But here, , this is an interesting take because I’m going to, I’m actually going to quote Kristen Turner who is quoted in. , article, she is a professor of teacher education at drew university and she says, there’s a lot of pressure on readers today to be able to select texts that are purposeful and useful and to discard others.

[00:09:30] And then what she’s talking about here is sort of like what we are presenting to our kids in schools. And she says that this pressure to like select texts and only view certain things as useful is problematic when it comes to developing that idea that. Kids have to like to read, right. That reading is not just a thing that you have to do, but it should be a positive habit that kids form the kids want to do.

[00:09:55] , I like to think of like in little kids, , like I’m an exerciser and if I don’t get up and [00:10:00] exercise every day at six in the morning, Gerard, like watch out the people who are in my way, because I will be in a very bad mood. Right. And sort of the same thing with that habit. Pleasure reading, not being forced to read, but picking up a book because you want to.

[00:10:13] And when our kids are faced with all of these other distractions, I mean, you and I probably had the biggest distraction we had in our homes was like the television. Think of the multiple things that can distract our kids today. If we’re not on it. And a book might be. They pick up.

[00:10:29] So I really appreciated this and they tie in the article. They tie like the idea of developing good reading habits and reading for pleasure in kids to Nate reading scores. And , one of the things we know is that over time NAPE reading scores have , vermin flat and in some cases gone down and, kids in this country.

[00:10:47] just aren’t reading at the levels that we need them to. And in one of the connections that the folks in this article making it’s written by Sarah Sparks are saying, is that maybe we’ve really taken the wrong tact in like pushing [00:11:00] certain texts on kids. Instead of saying, as I’ve seen in some really high performing schools, Hey, we’re all going to read together.

[00:11:07] as a class silently, book that we love for 20 minutes or something like that, whether it’s daily or every other day to develop that habit of reading. And I’m happy to say that so far, I do have readers in my house. , one of the things I will point out though, is. Become an expensive habit.

[00:11:25] Although we try and use our local library, my kids have gotten so into some, , newer books and newer book series that they like that they’re not always available. They’re very popular. So they’re not always available at a local library. And I am so into like promoting that instant gratification that I am often very likely to allow my children to choose a book from our local bookstore.

[00:11:43] So I just, convinced myself that I’m supporting a small, independent business Gerard. It is a rather expensive habit. , anyway, I really appreciate this article. I hope that we are all thinking about, , early literacy as we, your [00:12:00] stories about early education. This is about early literacy.

[00:12:02] , but as we enter new year and think about the things that in education policy, we should all be focused on early literacy is one of them in reading for pleasure and developing good reading. Such as reading for pleasure. Is this just such an important part of developing lifelong high-performing readers?

[00:12:19] So.

[00:12:21] GR: I’m all with you. , my three daughters are big readers. , I am, of course my wife is as well. We’ve had some great guests on the show. Who’ve talked about, , the importance of literacy, at different levels, some focusing early some later, but just the whole idea of what it means to be literate and what it means to be a whole person.

[00:12:40] So , it’s, you know, , what comes to mind? Uh, Danielle, let’s talk about Horace Mann and common schools. We’ve had ed Hirsch really enjoy talking to Brittany Hughes about the classics, what role that plays even in early literacy and the joy of reading. And I remember our guests who is an award winning writer for [00:13:00] the wall street journal, who actually, critiques.

[00:13:03] Focused on literacy. So this has really been an important topic. One thing about the pandemic that lot of people have overlooked are the role that libraries have played in working not only with adults, but the children of adults who for holster reason said, you know what, we’re going to make the library, our friend, , it’s one place we can go to.

[00:13:22] It’s often open when the school is not. And so. It’s going to be really interesting. And I’m sure there are some funders who are already thinking about this, or we’ll put some money in the hands of some researchers. what role did libraries play in the absence of schools being open in driving literacy for young people and that of adults?

[00:13:42] Because when we think of libraries, when we think of young people, but as you just said, You make use of them. And in fact, my family was there last week. So, , this is a great article. Something that we need to continue to push, but in a strange, strange way, I think one, , spillover effect of this will be [00:14:00] yes, learning gap.

[00:14:01] We know that, learning loss, we know that, but for some people, I think this is going to know. And it’d be in a silver lining for them because they’re going to make great use of encouraging their children to read because a lot of parents were home reading with their children and those who have trouble, reading.

[00:14:17] And we know there’s over a 30 million people, adults, particularly in the United States who have trouble with literacy. many of them have used online services, to make this happen so greatly.

[00:14:28] Cara: Yeah, it is. I want to ask you to Gerard, , , what’s a book that you’ve either read recently or that you’re reading now, because I think this is always, I love to ask folks this question, because then I get new books from.

[00:14:39] GR: So the book that I’m reading for my academic side is locking up our own. It was written by James Foreman, Jr. the book won the Pulitzer prize a few years ago, and it’s basically the story about, , crime and punishment. The role the courts played in it, the role race plays in it, but he gives really good.[00:15:00]

[00:15:00] examples of what took place in DC and New York city, , during the seventies and eighties, he’s a professor of criminal justice at Yale. He’s also, , one of the co-founders of the , Maya Angelo charter school in DC. So reading. On my, just interest and intellectual side, which has nothing per se to do with work.

[00:15:20] I am reading will in the world, how Shakespeare became Shakespeare and it’s by Stephen Greenblatt, who at one point was a professor of literature at Yale. , it was a finalist for the Pulitzer prize. I, not too long ago, had a chance to, , go to the Shakespeare theater here in Virginia. And we had a chance to.

[00:15:41] Listen to actually watch, one of the plays, which one I don’t remember right now, but I do have the book around here, but that’s what I’m doing right now.

[00:15:50] Cara: It, those a good recommended, and it also tells me a lot about you, right? Because those are all nonfiction. I believe that.

[00:15:57] Dr. Carson: Yes.

[00:15:57] Yeah.

[00:15:58] Cara: Yeah. So see, I would be, , [00:16:00] unlike an escapist, I, at the end of the day, I want to read nothing to do with my job, or I would recommend to our readers, I just finished a novel called like literally this morning called the invisible life of Addie live Ru by the Schwab.

[00:16:14] And I highly recommend it. It was really, really interesting. I also have to advise for the parents out there, I’ve got, on almost 12 years. Who is a voracious reader, but part of what comes with that is she likes to try to read things that are maybe the contents, not where, uh, mommy and poppy want her to be.

[00:16:31] You know what I’m saying? So I like to read why a fiction ahead of her meaning that I vet, , what she reads sometimes because, why fiction is young adults? Go all the way up to like the age of 18. And sometimes that’s not appropriate for a 12 year old. So doing that, I would also recommend to our listeners something that I have been reading for work, , because, this wonderful professor presented at the accelerated summit this year.

[00:16:56] , I think you were there to see. , Gerard was professor Joe bowler, [00:17:00] the author of limitless mind. So I would recommend all of those to our readers, but fiction. non-fictional like, look, see, now our readers have like five recommendations for what they can have on their shelves in the coming weeks.

[00:17:11] Right. Gerard. We are coming up on Martin Luther king Jr’s birthday. We will be remembering his legacy early next week on the 17th. And today’s guest knows a lot about the man. , we’re going to be speaking to Dr. Clayborne Carson. He is Professor of History Emeritus at Stanford university, and probably more pertinent to our conversation today.

[00:17:38] Founding director of the papers of Martin Luther King.[00:18:00]

[00:18:56] GR: Welcome listeners to another edition of the learning curve. [00:19:00] I am so honored to have as our speaker today, Dr. Clayborne Carson, who is the Martin Luther king Jr. Centennial professor of history. Stanford university and the founding director of the Martin Luther king Jr. Research and education initiative under his direction.

[00:19:16] The king paper project has produced seven volumes of the papers of Martin Luther king Jr. A definitive edition of key speeches, sermons, correspondences, publications, and writing. He is also the author of numerous books on the civil rights era, including struggle, SNCC and the Black awakening of the 1960s and Martin’s dream, my journey and legacy of Martin Luther king Jr.: A Memoir.

[00:19:44] Dr. Carson, welcome to The Learning Curve. Glad to have you on board. Listeners, you should know that if you want to see Dr. Carson in action, you should also go to our webpage and go to [00:20:00] 2015 video and take a look at the civil rights issue of our time, where we had a chance to talk about.

[00:20:04] education at a different level. So, Dr. Carson, this is a really big month for the United States, really for the world, to talk about the legacy and the meaning of Martin Luther King, you as a scholar of King, you’ve worked closely with his work. Many of us know Dr. King and other leaders. Important players in the creation of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, many of them were Baptist ministers who were committed to non-violent protests and the work that they participated in them, they called soul force.

[00:20:33] Would you share with our listeners how Dr. King was trying to provide larger spiritual and political leadership to our nation at that time?

[00:20:42] Dr. Carson: Well, I think that was his, role. I mean, he did not launch the movement. I guess Rosa Parks would say that, the movement came out of her action rather than Martin Luther King’s instruction and leadership.

[00:20:55] But I think that once the movement began [00:21:00] to spread during the 1950s and 1960s, he was the one who articulated it best. And I think he was the one who we remember in terms of his ability, to arouse the conscience of the nation. For me seeing him at the March on Washington, everyone wanted to stay for the final speech because they knew the March wasn’t complete until Martin Luther King had his say.

[00:21:26] And of course that has become one of the most famous speeches in this country. So yeah, he definitely played a major role and my job is to really strengthen his legacy by making his historical materials more widely available. And I’m still doing that. Now I’ve launched another project based on his ideas, called the World House Project.

[00:21:47] I’m retired as a teacher, but I continue to teach online, using all of the historical materials, not just the traditional documents. But things like [00:22:00] videos and photographs and all these materials that allow people to become immersed in that area. And I think that that’s the future of education is combining the creativeness of documentaries, with more traditional Lectures, which are typically narratives of the past, but I really want to have my students understand the past directly through involvement with these audio-visual images.

[00:22:26] GR: It’s wonderful. When you mentioned, Rosa parks and the role that she played. I also think of, Septima Clark and Joanne Robinson and the role that so many women played in the civil rights movement not only in Alabama, but across the country who are often overlooked and Dr. King himself,

[00:22:43] Dr. Carson: someone like Dorothy Cotton.

[00:22:46] GR: Exactly. Well, since you mentioned SNCC, let’s go to the next question. Dr. King of course, is involved with SCLC. You also have the student nonviolent coordinating committee. Could you discuss the relationship [00:23:00] between Dr. King, SCLC and SNCC and maybe some less well-known civil right leaders like Bob P. Moses,

[00:23:08] Dr. Carson: For me, as a young person coming up in the 1960s, I was 19 when I went to the March. So my heroic figures where the young people in SNCC , I admired Martin Luther king, but, my role models were people like Bob Moses, Stokely Carmichael, Diane Nash.

[00:23:29] People who were my age, college-age and they were to a certain extent followers of Martin Luther king, but they were also saying “catch up, Martin, we’re ahead of you.” and I kind of had that attitude, that what we were doing was really the vanguard of the movement and that Martin Luther King was the spokesperson.

[00:23:49] But I, think we had a tendency maybe to overestimate the value of our role, for me, and by moving to Los Angeles and becoming very [00:24:00] much involved with a group called the nonviolent action committee, we thought that we were pushing Martin Luther King and then Martin Luther King would eventually recognize that he would have to move to the urban areas where there were all

[00:24:14] racial problems that had to be dealt with. And that’s what we were working on. Issues like housing and employment issues. And all the things that eventually bought Martin Luther King to Watts in 1965, after the violence broke out there. After that, of course he moved to Chicago because he recognized that he had to spread his message to the urban areas in the north and

[00:24:38] not just focused entirely on the south.

[00:24:41] GR: That was a little bit funny. You mentioned Watts. My mother and father were actually in LA during what people call the Watts riots. My dad had a house there and, as a young kid, I guess I would have been a couple years old. And he took me to watch to see Robert F.

[00:24:57] Kennedy, when he came to that area. [00:25:00] You mentioned Stokely Carmichael, and just brought to mind. Is it true that Stokely Carmichael is a person who is responsible for getting Dr. King to move away from using the term Negro?

[00:25:12] Dr. Carson: I think that that was something that was gradually happening. Malcolm X played a role in that, even earlier. Yeah, it was a gradual shift. I think that reflected that in terms of my own sense of identity but it was, larger than simply “Negro” rather than “black.”

[00:25:31] I was smart enough to know that both words mean the same thing. But it was also a sense of what was our destiny? Where are we moving? In some ways, all of us had different answers to that question that Martin Luther King asked, where do we go from here? he was asking that in 1967, we all had our answers to that question.

[00:25:51] He was saying at that time that that’s the crucial question and it had to be answered on a global basis that we had [00:26:00] to, begin to understand that this was a global struggle and the alternatives were chaos or community. And that became the basis.

[00:26:10] King talked about a “world house” that we’ve inherited. And so I translate that as well. We need to learn how to live in this world house and, that’s an educational project and that’s what I’ve taken on.

[00:26:24] GR: Exactly. You mentioned the north. In 1966, we have the Chicago campaign that Dr. King said was one of the worst experiences that he had, a lot of violence also erupted.

[00:26:35] Could you talk about the racial issues in the north and south, and maybe in particular, how King thought about strategies for each or maybe even both?

[00:26:46] Dr. Carson: Well, I think that’s what he was trying to do by moving to Chicago was he was trying to say that. Is that tendency in the north to leave behind nonviolence as a basic principle of the movement.

[00:26:57] And I think he was making the [00:27:00] argument that we had to stick to that, that nonviolence was the best approach in the north, as well as the south. It was a harder argument, in the north, because there were already groups like the Black Panther party that were saying, it’s time to pick up.

[00:27:14] And it was harder also because of the times for me as a person who was being drafted go to Vietnam, the choice was not nonviolence, the course was if you don’t fight for your freedom, you’ll get drafted to fight for American democracy in Vietnam. That was just much more difficult

[00:27:34] for people like myself to remain convinced that non-violence was the answer, in the north as well as the south. And I think that is unfortunate. I think that, from the perspective I have now, I think that we underestimated the power of nonviolence and that’s maybe one of the things that’s getting picked up by

[00:27:54] the black lives matter movement of our time is that, it’s again, kind of reaffirming that when [00:28:00] you mobilize enough people, you don’t need to have the vanguard that the Black Panther party saw its role playing, that can confuse the issue because the opposition of course becomes far more well-armed than any Black Panther party could ever be.

[00:28:19] And you’re not going to win that way. So I think that it’s a lesson that was important to learn during that time. And I hope we did learn it. I hope that we don’t go back to thinking that if we have an armed revolutionary movement, we can bring about the change we want.

[00:28:33] It’s just not likely in the 21st century.

[00:28:36] GR: One of the things that King and others did during those trying times was to rely on history on poems, hymn spirituals, and other documents, even documentaries at the time for inspiration, Langston Hughes, 1951 poem, Harlem, a dream differed, strongly influenced Dr.

[00:28:54] King’s speeches and his sermons. What role. Do you [00:29:00] think that that played on him? Not only as a civil rights person, but also as a leader, as a man, and as a thinker during some trying times when he was constantly under, threat of death, , when he began to lose friends, how did , , this literature play a role in his life?

[00:29:19] Dr. Carson: Oh, I think a great role. he was, of course, as a Baptist minister, familiar with culture of resistance in the black community, it is conveyed through three of them songs , , there’s so many that, , he worked into who is oratory , and I think that that’s important for young people to understand is that, Music is, that cultural, meaning that, everybody understands, every sustain movement throughout the world has in some ways relied on music because it’s something that everyone can.

[00:29:54] Relate to you. You don’t have to be a great singer to sing a freedom song. You don’t have to sing the song, to [00:30:00] understand when people are saying, keep your eyes on the prize, That is a way for people to collectively work together. The labor movements of the United States have always understood that.

[00:30:13] and there are times of great movement that song as a way of expressing solidarity and that solidarity is necessary, to move forward. so I think that. Always need to understand that deciding how to move forward is connected to that sense of who we are as a, people.

[00:30:34] And there’s no better way of expressing weakness than singing together. his last question, where do we go from here? because simple question, but it’s very complex because we have to decide who is the we in that question? Who are we going to move forward with? And there’s nothing like, during a protest to have a song convey that sense of solidarity.

[00:30:58] GR: Dr. Clean [00:31:00] had a lot of influences and you’ve mentioned some. , two that come to mind to me are Dr. Mordecai Johnson, who became first black president of Howard university, which is my Alma mater. as I mentioned, I was a philosophy major, with your student,, with your son, Malcolm and Howard, but also you had Morehouse graduate, Dr.

[00:31:18] Howard Thurman, who had a chance to travel to India. These are two figures that some of our listeners may know little about. You talk to us about those two men and how they influenced the king, , who ultimately we became familiar with.

[00:31:32] Dr. Carson: Yeah. I’m glad you mentioned that because one of the important things that’s not widely known, even, in the black community is how much.

[00:31:41] people like Howard Thurman and, Mordecai Johnson played and conveying the, Gandhi and movement in India to the United States. And of course that has a tremendous impact on Martin Luther king and on the black struggle as a whole, Gandhi, arrival in India. And[00:32:00] I think it was around the world war one, From that point on black newspapers picked up the gun story because you can imagine the impact on the world of the British empire was deleting empire of the world.

[00:32:13] And here was this, nonwhite guy, in India who was Challenging the strongest empire in the world and, coming out, handling them pretty well. , eventually leading an independence movement that, succeeded. Now it took decades. But during that time, Howard Thurman and I think Mordecai Johnson was part of that delegation.

[00:32:36] Right. organize the delegation to go over and meet with guns in 1936. And they were able to spend a day talking with him and, bringing back these ideas. and of course, Benjamin Mays was part of that. And he became the mentor of Martin Luther king. So, , Martin Luther king and 1959 himself went to India, to meet with some of these [00:33:00] individuals.

[00:33:00] And now I recall in. Well, I guess there was 50 years later, going to India, myself and retracing, Martin Luther king stops. And they went with, , Martin the third and, , people like, Andrew Young and other people, John Lewis came on that trip , so we all went and. Not only gotten these steps, but partly the king steps because we followed pretty much the same, , tour of India that, Martin Luther king had.

[00:33:27] And that’s some of the same people who remembered Martin Luther King’s, trip. so I think that that connection, between the Gandhi and movement in India and Martin Luther king is, extremely infant. In terms of understanding the role of someone like, oh my gosh, there’s so many, what I would call the black gun Indians, the ones who are trying to bring over these ideas that I’m, non-violent direct action to the United States and, , James Lawson, I guess that’s one of the most prominent about us.

[00:33:57] he was the one who. [00:34:00] And helped organize the people who would later lead the sit-ins and the freedom rides. so yeah, that connection is still around by the way, because we held a conduct king conference here at Stanford, a couple of years back and brought, more than 500 people from all over the world.

[00:34:17] South Africa, as well as India and the United States. Isla Gandhi, you know, uh, was one of the, significant figures in the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. And she’s the granddaughter of Gandhians. She lived nearly all of her life and South Africa word God, the himself got his start as a non-violent activist.

[00:34:39] So I think particularly important for young people to understand the global context of, of. Because in the 21st century, we are talking about a global movement. We are talking about a world house. And without that understanding that it’s always been these global influences and [00:35:00] the anti-colonial movement to the civil rights movement, to the movements that are going on right now.

[00:35:06] that’s what young people need to understand is that there’s this long history of. , what I would call, pan African Asian movements and the interchange of ideas in this. I could mentioned, , that this weekend. During our most important project for the king holiday. we’re having a film festival. And, if you just do a Google search for the world house project at Stanford, you’ll see list of films that anyone anywhere in the world can watch for free this weekend.

[00:35:35] GR: Well, thank you so much for including your personal story. India is just one example, but all those years of scholarship, at Stanford, thank you so much for sharing, , some ideas behind the world house project. I’m sure our listeners will. look that up. Thank you again for, , not only being a scholar of Dr.

[00:35:54] King, but a scholar of what it means to be a whole person, , in a world that oftentimes. [00:36:00] Wants to break us up into pieces and being an academic Ray of hope, four generation of scholars and leaders. And many of those were just interested in learning more about king and learning more about history. So with that, thank you so much for joining us and, , just know that here at the learning curve, we will continue to follow your work and to support you as we can.

[00:36:20] Dr. Carson: Take care.


[00:36:41] GR: So Cara, my tweet of the week is from Democrats for education reform, , via the New York times. And in highlights, differs polling of voters in Virginia, , my home state and it showed that the prolonged school closure was a concern amongst parents. who were [00:37:00] casting a ballot and someone who is in the state who voted, but who also saw schools closed.

[00:37:06] That was a major, , factor for both Democrats and Republicans. And while critical race theory is taken up a lot of the oxygen in the room as to what pushed Governor Youngkin over to the winning side, really have to look at school closures. For many families that was a bigger issue and something that we should look at.

[00:37:29] Cara: Yeah, man. I tell you, your home state of Virginia is really getting its fair share of attention in the, news and media these days, , real spotlight on it. And you can see , , what happens, especially in education policy in the coming months,

[00:37:40] GR: direct will speaking of, education in Virginia.

[00:37:43] Give a congratulations to Amy Gudera is the new Virginia secretary of education. Cara and I know Amy through our previous lives and work in school reform. she is a national expert on data on quality [00:38:00] and accountability. So, glad to have you here in the Commonwealth, Amy, and look forward, baby.

[00:38:04] At some point, even having.

[00:38:06] Cara: I was just going to say the same. Come on down, Amy. We’re ready to have you all right to ride. Next week, we are going to be speaking with, in Rome, a colleague of yours from the American enterprise Institute, where he focuses on education and upward mobility, family formation and adoption.

[00:38:22] So it’s going to be a great conversation. I think many of our listeners will know Ian Rowe and his work and looking forward to it. Gerard happy. Happy you’re safe. You be happy that it’s probably not minus 10 degrees where you are, but, uh, I’m looking for 35 degrees tomorrow. That’s all I have to say.

[00:38:41] Take care of yourself.[00:39:00]

Recent Episodes:

Yale’s Pulitzer-Winning Prof. David Blight on Frederick Douglass, Slavery, & Emancipation

This week on “The Learning Curve," Cara Candal and guest co-host Derrell Bradford talk with David Blight, Sterling Professor of American History and director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University. He is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography, Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom.

UVA Prof. E.D. Hirsch, Jr. on Core Knowledge, Equity, & Educating Citizens

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Professor E.D. Hirsch, Jr., founder and chairman of the Core Knowledge Foundation, professor emeritus at the University of Virginia, and acclaimed author of the books, Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know and How to Educate a Citizen: The Power of Shared Knowledge to Unify a Nation.

Human Rights Advocate Kristina Arriaga on Cuba, Religious Liberty, & Cancel Culture

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Kristina Arriaga, president of Intrinsic, a strategic communications firm, and former vice chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Kristina shares her family’s experiences fleeing Castro’s communist regime in Cuba and other hardships, and how her background has shaped her commitment to religious liberty.

The Institute for Justice’s Michael Bindas on the SCOTUS, Carson v. Makin, & Expanding School Choice

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Michael Bindas, a senior attorney with the Institute for Justice (IJ). They discuss IJ’s 2020 landmark U.S. Supreme Court win in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, and its implications for state Blaine Amendments, bigoted legal barriers that have blocked religious liberty and school choice for over a century, as well as the Maine school tuitioning case, Carson v. Makin, which was recently granted certiorari.

Civil Rights Leader Bob Woodson on 1776 Unites & Race in America

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Robert Woodson, Sr., founder and president of the Woodson Center that supports neighborhood-based initiatives to revitalize low-income communities, as well as author and editor of the May 2021 book, "Red, White, and Black."

Mariam Memarsadeghi on Freeing Iran, Civic Ed, & Immigrant Portraits

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-host Cara Candal and guest co-host Derrell Bradford talk with Mariam Memarsadeghi, senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute. Mariam shares remembrances from her early years spent in the Shah’s Iran, and emigration to the U.S. shortly after Ayatollah Khomeini’s revolution in 1979.

Independent Institute’s Dr. Morgan Hunter on Teaching Greco-Roman History to High Schoolers

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Dr. Morgan Hunter, Research Fellow at the Independent Institute in California, and co-author with Dr. Victor Davis Hanson and Dr. Williamson Evers, of the white paper, Is It Time for a “490 B.C. Project”?: High Schoolers Need to Know Our Classical Heritage.

Aurora Institute’s Susan Patrick on Digital Learning Lessons from COVID-19

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Susan Patrick, the President and CEO of Aurora Institute and co-founder of CompetencyWorks. Susan shares observations about the long-term implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for American K-12 education, and the prospects for expanding digital learning.

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Prof. David Hackett Fischer on Paul Revere, George Washington, & American Independence

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with David Hackett Fischer, University Professor and Earl Warren Professor of History Emeritus at Brandeis University, and the author of numerous books, including Paul Revere's Ride and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington's Crossing. As America prepares to celebrate the Fourth of July, they review key figures who helped secure independence from Great Britain, including Paul Revere, immortalized in Longfellow’s classic poem, and Founding Father George Washington, known among his contemporaries as the “indispensable man” of the revolutionary cause.

AEI’s Naomi Schaefer Riley on Parenting, Excessive Screen Time, & Religion in American Education

This week on “The Learning Curve," Gerard Robinson and guest co-host Kerry McDonald talk with Naomi Schaefer Riley, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of several books, including Be the Parent, Please.