What can be learned from years of studying the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr., in the U.S. civil rights movement? Why is it important that Dr. King’s activities and impact in Savannah, Southeast Georgia, and other communities be more thoroughly documented and understood so that we have a complete picture of the national civil rights movement?
These are two of the many questions that noted King scholar Dr. Clayborne Carson will address on his visit to Savannah and to Dorchester Academy in Midway on Nov. 13-14. Carson, professor of history and founding director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Institute at Stanford University, was recently named Martin Luther King, Jr., Distinguished Professor at Morehouse College in Atlanta and serves as executive director of the Morehouse King Collection. His visit to Savannah is sponsored by the project “Building Capacity of African American Museums,” which is supported by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).
Dr. Carson will speak at the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum (460 Martin Luther King Blvd.) today at 6 p.m. The museum will remain open between 5-6 p.m. for audience members who have not toured the exhibits.
On Saturday, from 9 a.m.-noon, Dr. Carson will visit Dorchester Academy in Midway where Dr. King trained civil rights workers for several campaigns.
Carson’s first book, “In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s,” remains the definitive history of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
He also wrote “Malcolm X: The FBI File” (1991), and he is co-author of “African American Lives: The Struggle for Freedom” (2005), a comprehensive survey of African-American history.
Dr. Carson also served as senior advisor for “Eyes on the Prize” and co-edited the “Eyes on the Prize Civil Rights Reader” (1991). Under Dr. Carson’s direction, the King Papers Project has produced six volumes of “The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr.,” and has written or co-edited “A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.” (1998); “The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.” (1998), and “A Call to Conscience: The Landmark Speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” (2001).
Savannah State University is the host for the $149,700 grant from IMLS. According to project director Dr. Ronald Bailey, seven institutions participate in the collaboration: the SSU Archives; Beach Institute African American Culture Center and the King-Tisdell Cottage; Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum; First African Baptist Church Museum; Dorchester Academy Museum in Midway and Willow Hill Heritage and Renaissance Center in Portal. The main objective is to provide professional development opportunities for museum staff.
Activities have included an Afro-American Museum Roundtable for ongoing professional development; and membership, attendance and presentations at several national, regional and local conferences, including the African American Museums Association, the Southeastern Museums Associations and the Georgia Association of Museum and Galleries.
The project is developing a traveling trunk exhibit focused on “Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement in Southeast Georgia,” and will host a workshop for teachers who are interested in developing materials for use in local schools.
The IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The institute’s mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas.
The institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development.
To learn more about the institute, visit www.imls.gov.