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Scholar: King went beyond equality

POSTED: November 16, 2009 9:14 a.m.
Photo by Frenchi Jones/

Dr. Clayborne Carson

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MIDWAY — What Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did better than anyone else was try to understand where we fit into history and where we
all fit into
the world, according to King scholar Dr. Clayborne Carson.
On Saturday, Carson, director of the Morehouse University’s Martin Luther King Archives and a professor at Morehouse and Stafford University, spoke to an audience of nearly 20 people in historical Dorchester Academy’s lecture hall.
Likening King to Moses, Carson discussed how the civil rights leader’s dream included more than equality for black people.
 “Yes, he was black, he was a civil rights leader, but he was much more than that,” the lecturer said. “He was the visionary …”
King, who visited the Dorchester Academy in 1941, was, according to Carson, a preacher of social gospel for all people.
“[For him] It wasn’t a movement just about getting a better seat on the bus, it was a movement about justice, it was a movement about the principals of the Declaration of Independence, it was a movement of what Jesus was talking about in the sermon of the mount. It was all of these things,” he said. “Keep in mind this was not just simply a movement that affected black America, it affected all of America. It changed the South. It changed America in ways that we are still exploring today.”
Carson’s lecture was sponsored by “Building Capacity of African American Museums,” a program directed by history Professor Ronald Bailey of Savannah State University.
Bailey said his program sheds light on the educational significance of preserving African-American landmarks and history.
“Everyone should realize that these sites are of great historical importance because so many great, important discussions took place there,” Bailey said. “I don’t think that there is any region in the United States that has a stronger claim for its importance than the area represented by Dorchester.”
Earlier this month, the Georgia Trust put the academy on its 2010 list of 10 Places in Peril, and last year, Dorchester was named one of the nation’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Sites by the National Historic Trust .
Since then, the academy’s restoration board members have been rallying for national recognition and funds to renovate the 80-year-old building.
Riceboro Mayor Bill Austin, the board’s president, said Carson’s appearance was a chance to bring the school to the forefront where it belongs.
“It’s always said that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it,” Austin said. “So we think that this is an opportunity to reinforce that Dorchester is very important to the hearts and minds of the people of Liberty County, to our state and to the nation.”
King visited Dorchester Academy in 1941 after the academy hosted citizen education workshops sponsored by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to train grassroots leaders from all over the South about legal voting rights and responsibilities.
He spent time at the academy in 1963 preparing for the Birmingham march and also wrote and practiced portions of his “I Have a Dream” speech.
 

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