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King Papers Welcomed Home By Morehouse College

By Shaneesa N. Ashford

Morehouse College officially welcomed home the collection of papers and memorabilia from one of the school’s most prominent alumni during a press conference at King Chapel on Monday, October 9.

The Morehouse College Martin Luther King Jr. Collection was scheduled to be auctioned by Sotheby’s on June 30. Interested institutions included the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., and Boston University, where King received his doctorate in systematic theology in 1955. However, Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin rallied several public and private entities to produce funding to purchase the collection. Through a deal brokered at the proverbial 11th hour, Morehouse College became owner of the 10,000-piece collection, which includes 7,000 handwritten notes and unpublished sermons.

President Walter E. Massey ’58 said the College is proud to serve as the home of the King’s papers. The civil-rights leader graduated from Morehouse with a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 1948.

“Given the important role Morehouse played in Dr. King’s intellectual, spiritual and moral development, we believe there simply is no better place for these papers to reside,” he said. “Morehouse is committed to continuing to do what is right to preserve and promote the legacy of our most prominent alumnus.”

The papers, which arrived on September 14, are currently being archived at the Robert W. Woodruff Library. Morehouse has hired Brenda Banks, former deputy director of the Georgia Department of Archives and History, to serve as chief archivist for the papers. The 1971 Spelman graduate also will work in conjunction with the Woodruff Library team of director Loretta Parham and library archivists to catalog the collection.

While the Collection is owned by Morehouse, copyright privileges are retained by the King Family Estate. To ensure the community is able to view the papers and benefit from the experience of seeing King’s works, Morehouse will partner with various groups and organizations to sponsor educational events and exhibits. The first public viewing of the Collection is scheduled for January 2007 at the Atlanta History Center.

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