• Length:
    11 Weeks
  • Effort:
    2–4 hours per week
  • Price:

    FREE
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  • Institution
  • Subject:
  • Level:
    Introductory
  • Language:
    English
  • Video Transcript:
    English
  • Course Type:
    Self-paced on your time

Prerequisites

This online course is open to learners from all backgrounds. All can benefit, including teachers, students, historians, and social activists who are passionate about American history. There are no prerequisites to take this course.

About this course

Skip About this course

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a minister turned civil rights activist known throughout the world as an inspirational orator and a passionate advocate of nonviolent civil disobedience. Yet what do we know about the inner workings of the man who inspired so many? How can we learn from his personal documents to better understand his hopes and fears as well as his drive?

During this captivating course, Professor Clayborne Carson will walk you through a journey of discovery, following Dr. King’s thoughts and steps through Atlanta, Albany, Selma, and Memphis. Each lesson will explore a few documents from the Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project — a comprehensive collection of King’s most significant correspondence, sermons, speeches, published writings, and unpublished manuscripts. You will learn an essential technique of historical analysis: the use of primary source documents as windows into the past.

You will also view on-location filming of places Dr. King spent time, bringing to life the stories of his journey with personal commentary from Professor Carson and eyewitness interviews. Follow Dr. King’s extraordinary path from the benches of Ebenezer Baptist Church to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and become re-inspired by the man, the minister, the leader.

Dr. Clayborne Carson, the professor who teaches this course, is offering weekly Zoom calls for students interested in discussing the material further. Calls are every Monday from 12:30-1:30 PST.

Students can join by video chat at https://stanford.zoom.us/j/809831146. All are welcome.

What you'll learn

Skip What you'll learn
  • How Dr. King inspired the civil rights movement
  • How Dr. King’s public and private life influenced his view of the world and his legacy
  • How to use an essential technique of historical analysis
  • How to combine documents, facts, and context to gain a deeper understanding of history

Meet your instructors

Clayborne Carson
Martin Luther King, Jr. Centennial Professor of History
Stanford University

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Frequently asked questions

Do I need to buy a textbook?

There are no required textbooks for this class. However, in each episode, we will present a list of optional recommended reading for those interested in delving further into the concepts we introduce.