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50 years beyond the dream


It was 50 years ago today that over 250,000 people gathered in Washington for the Jobs and Freedom March. On that day, Martin Luther King JR made one of HISTORY’S most famous speeches: “I Have a Dream.”

Today in Washington thousands gathered to celebrate that life-changing day. It was a homecoming for some, and for others a reminder of how much work is still to come.  In honor of the 50 year anniversary we’re re-airing an interview with someone who has dedicated his life to understanding more about Martin Luther King. Stanford history professor Clayborne Carson remembers the day he got a call from Mrs. Coretta Scott King. A day when King’s life became  part of his own.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s widow asks Carson to tell her late husband’s story through his papers. Carson is momentarily conflicted about accepting King’s request, even recommending more qualified individuals, but agrees to take on the hundreds of thousands of documents in her possession.


Carson is now director of Stanford’sMartin Luther King, Jr Research and Education Institute, publisher of Dr. King’s papers and author of“Martin’s Dream: My Journey and the Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.”  For 28 years, he has immersed himself in Dr. King’s writings, publishing the “King Papers Project” -- six volumes of speeches, sermons, correspondence, publications and unpublished writings. He founded the Institute in 2005 and later published his memoir.


Today we're airing a piece from our archives, when Hana Baba spoke with Carson to better understand the man behind the Civil Rights Movement and his dream that America has yet to fulfill.


CLAYBORNE CARSON: He says, "What is going to be my mission as a minister? To deal with unemployment, slums, economic insecurity." He doesn’t even mention civil rights.

Click the audio player above to listen to the complete conversation.

Hana Baba is host of Crosscurrents, KALW's weeknight newsmagazine that broadcasts on KALW Public Radio in the San Francisco Bay Area.