Martin Luther King, Jr. - Education
Martin Luther King, Jr., made history, but he was also transformed by his deep family roots in the African-American Baptist church, his formative experiences in his hometown of Atlanta, his theological studies, his varied models of religious and political leadership, and his extensive network of contacts in the peace and social justice movements of his time. Although King was only 39 at the time of his death, his life was remarkable for the ways it reflected and inspired so many of the twentieth century’s major intellectual, cultural, and political developments.
Later that year King is named chairman of the student body’s devotional committee.
On his placement form for Crozer’s ministerial field work program, King states that his strongest talents lie in preaching and pastoral work and that he wishes to be assigned as a pastor’s assistant. King was assigned in the fall of 1950 to a bimonthly student pastorate at the First Baptist Church of East Elmhurst in Queens, New York, under the guidance of Rev. William E. Gardner.
In three of the five examination questions for this course, DeWolf asked his students to discuss different conceptions of God in the Old Testament. Affirming that there is rational evidence in the Old Testament to sustain belief in God, King notes that the writer of the book of Job questions that faith. “Why do the righteous suffer?
In Chester, Pennsylvania, Crozer Theological Seminary honors King with its first Alumni Achievement Award.
King receives an honorary degree from Howard University.
King receives an honorary degree from the Chicago Theological Seminary.
King is awarded an honorary degree during commencement exercises at Morehouse College.
A theologian who had a major influence on Martin Luther King’s religious ideas, Paul Tillich is considered one of the foremost thinkers of Protestantism. In response to Tillich’s death in October 1965, King commented: “He helped us to speak of God’s action in history in terms which adequately expressed both the faith and the intellect of modern man” (King, October 1965).
During his tenure as dean of Marsh Chapel at Boston University, theologian and minister Howard Thurman sent Martin Luther King, Jr., and Coretta Scott King his 1955 volume on spirituals, Deep River. He inscribed the book: “To the Kings—The test of life is often found in the amount of pain we can absorb without spoiling our joy” (Papers 6:299).” Thurman’s commitment to a spiritually and physically integrated society, and to the methods of Gandhian nonviolence, served as major influences in King’s life.