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$32 Million Loan Brings MLK Papers to Morehouse


A coalition of civic, business and academic leaders are reportedly paying $32 million to bring a collection of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s writings back to Atlanta and Morehouse College. The papers were scheduled to be auctioned for $15 million to $30 million at Sotheby’s on June 30.

Dr. Walter E. Massey, president of Morehouse College, says the historically Black college is where the papers should be. King, a 1948 graduate of the college, entered Morehouse as an early admission student at the age of 15.

 “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,” Massey says. “We are grateful to the King family for their confidence in Morehouse to serve as the repository for this legacy, which reflects the best thinking of our nation’s most outstanding leader, and of Morehouse College’s most outstanding alumnus.”

Massey also thanked the coalition of Atlantans — led by Mayor Shirley Franklin —  without whom the university’s acquisition of the papers would not have been possible. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that a loan for $32 million is being used to purchase the papers. The loan will be repaid with donations from individuals, businesses and local institutions. 

“Mayor Franklin’s leadership, and the efforts and contributions of dozens of individuals and corporations, reflect the spirit of this great city, where we believe, and where we act on the belief, that anything is possible,” Massey says.

Morehouse officials say the college is committed to ensuring that the collection is available to scholars and researchers and others who are interested in King’s evolution as a man and as a leader.

Dr. William Potter, a University of Georgia librarian, and Dr. Loretta Parham, director of the Robert W. Woodruff Library, will assist the college in processing the collection and arranging for its temporary housing until a permanent location is identified.

The collection contains more than 10,000 manuscripts and books and includes more than 7,000 items in King’s handwriting. It ranges from a college examination on the Bible from 1946, King’s earliest surviving theological writing, to his Nobel Peace Prize lecture of 1964, to papers he was working on just prior to his assassination in 1968.

“This historic archive is of extraordinary significance and the King Estate and Sotheby’s had hoped — and worked hard to ensure — that its disposition would permit access to the public and to scholars. This has now been achieved,” says David Redden, vice chairman of Sotheby’s.

The collection will be on exhibition at Sotheby’s in New York until June 29.

— Diverse reports

Reader comments on this story:

There are currently 2 reader comments on this story:

“bringing the writings home”
As a German-Hungarian American who has served and lived and been so blessed within the African American Community for nearly thirty two years, I am grateful to the citizens of Atlanata and around.  It is such a relief to see that the writings of Dr. King will be honored so that his work, his handwriting, his touch upon these papers will be loved and cherished. 

     May all who read them, absorb his spirit, allowing the truth of God who touched Dr. King, embibe them with the save truth for ongoing prophetic service to the world community.

     Again, please a heartfelt thankyou to all who contributed to bringing these writings “home”.
-Raymond Kemmerer

“Where is the $32M going?”
Just wondered where this $32m is going to go now. Is it going towards the renovation and other wants of the MLK Center which I understand is in bad need of repairs etc. Or is it going to be for the personal wants and needs of the Kings household? I would have hoped Mrs. King would be alive to live in comfprt from the efforts of Dr. King; but that was not to be.
-Ranimore A. Manning

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