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tv   Lectures in History Martin Luther King Jr.s Formative Years  CSPAN  January 15, 2018 8:00pm-9:01pm EST

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go, big old beard. next, stanford university professor clarburn carson talks about civil rights leader martin luther king, jr.'s upbringing. it took place in atlanta where mlk and his father were both pastors. the class was part of a three-week seminar that included field trips to visit civil rights historic sites. this is about an hour. >> who is martin luther king? when we look at martin luther king, there is one side of him that is famous individual. he is the 1964 winner of the nobel peace prize. he's the person who really was the most influential leader of a great social movement.
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he is the only american who is honored with a national holiday in his name. so there is that uniqueness that practically everybody in the word knows the name martin luther king. but the question is i'd like to address right in this setting is who really was martin luther king? because one of the advantages of using a setting like this is that we can really practice history the way it should be. it shouldn't be about names and dates that you remember. it should be about the study of the things that survive from the past. that's why a site or historical site is so important. that's why the king papers project, when coretta scott king edited martin luther king's paper, she understood that in
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the long run what would survive were the papers that martin luther king produced during his lifetime. so all of that is part of what i would call the legacy of martin luther king. and if we want to get close to who he really was, that's the best window that we have into the past. so martin luther king produced a lot of papers. one of the things that has kept me busy for the last 30 years is bringing together hundreds of thousands of documents. as any great person, you have so many materials to work with. and all of these are important windows. and that's why i feel that my life is well-served by doing this, is that it provides what will be the lasting memory of
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martin luther king. but when we look at who he really was, we have to kind of go back beyond the myth. we have to go back beyond the kind of person who was honored by the national holiday because the importance of coming to a site like this is that you begin to see evidence from michael king, the person who existed before martin luther king, the reverend martin luther king, jr. that was the person who was born just up the street, a block up the street at 501 auburn avenue. and that was the person that i hope as you saw that birth home, you kind of had in your mind what kind of a influence would that historical building have on
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the making of martin luther king? and fortunately we not only have the birth home but we have a few documents. not as many as when he becomes famous, you know, thousands and thousands of letters that we have, documents that people who wrote to him, all of those things are part of the papers of martin luther king. but when we look at when he was growing up, his formative years, we don't have a lot to work with. basically what we have are a few documents and a lot of memories. some of the memories are not as reliable as the other memories, but just think of a document that most of you have. it's called your birth certificate. we have that from martin luther king. and it tells us some important things about him.
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it tells that he was born on january 15, 1929. we know that the birth took place in that second floor bedroom in that home. we know something about the other names that are on that birth certificate. who would be on that? the father and the mother. so we know that at that time the person who becomes martin luther king, sr., at that time he's mike king. he also is living in that house. and alberta king is living there. but something else that you begin to understand as you look at the other major document from that period, which is the autobiography of martin luther king, which is the document that he writes when he's at the
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seminary. he writes his own biographical sketch. it's only 14 page, and he does it as an assignment for a class. and we can learn a number of thin things about him from that document. and another thing that's important is the memoir of daddy king. because that kind of provides a lot of life to it. in historian terms historians refer to that as still a primary document because he was a witness, but it's long after the fact, so it becomes less valuable in some ways. but also it's personal, so it's valuable in other ways. so let's look at these documents. one of the things we find is how was he born? one of the things that the birth certificate indicates is that there was a midwife and a
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doctor. and the doctor also lived on auburn avenue. so what does that tell us about martin luther king? that this neighborhood was diverse. a doctor could live in this neighborhood, but there were also work class people living in this neighborhood. but also the fact there was a midwife at the birth, which indicates his family was somewhat privileged. at least there was a doctor also attending. but we can see from that, that martin luther king's early upbringing was kind of a mixture hof the, i guess what i would call the striving for middle class status and the people who were predominant in this neighborhood, that is working
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class families. so we can also see from this document that at that time his father is preacher. where? right here. we can see that there's another person in this household. and who is that? that is, at that time of his birth you have both of the grandparents who are still alive. and his grandfather is also the minister at ebenezer church. so a lot of these things we can find by looking at the birth certificate, looking at the autobiography of religious development, looking at daddy king, we can see these were the forces that shaped him. growing up in this home, a middle class victorian home,
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two-story, six bedrooms. that was unusual. gave him a certain amount of privilege. we can also see that he's connected to the past. what does he say in the autobiography? he refers to his saintly grandmother who told him stories about the time before going back to slavery. so he grows up with a great attachment. why? because his grandmother sees him as her favorite grandson. that's probably because he's the oldest, the one who comes along first. she tells him all these stories. that's part of what he gets. but the great influence on his life is going to be his father. what happens to his grandfather? he dies before martin luther king gets to know him.
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dies when he's only about 2 years old. and who replaces him here at ebenezer? his father. how does that happen? well, in daddy king's memoir, we can tell a little bit about that story. the fact that his mother-in-law is the widow of the person who almost founded this church, gave him a great advantage. but actually at the time michael king, the reverend michael king was skeptical about becoming the minister of ebenezer. why would that be? well, part of it was he wanted to have his own church. and if he could come to this church, would he have gotten the position just because he's the son-in-law or because this was
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something he'd earned on his own? so he was somewhat skeptical about that. also, from his point of view, this is something that he would always be in the shadow of his father-in-law. so it took him a while before he makes that decision to come and be pastor here. what happens after that? well, reverend williams was a very successful person in his own times. when martin comes to atlanta in the years after world war i, he comes from very humble background. his father had been a sharecropper. he sees world poverty, grows up in this situation of trying to make it in the rural south, not that far from atlanta. he's the type of person who is
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very ambitious, however. and that's what leads him into the ministry. he wants to have a better life than simply plowing the fields. so he teaches himself the rudiments of preaching. he only has about what we would call a third grade education at that point. very illiterate, but he learns enough to read bible verses, memorize said lots of them. decides in the years after world war i, coming to atlanta, his sister woody has a border -- the bedroom closest to the street is where they put borders. she's living there. so he comes to visit her, and who does he see on the porch? alberta, the daughter of reverend williams. and she decides almost from the first time he sees her, she's going to be my wife.
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he also decides, i'm going to aspire to be a minister like reverend williams. so he comes there and he knows that a half literal itinerate preacher who just arrived in atlanta is not going to marry the daughter of a successful preacher. this is despite the fact that reverend williams comes from almost identical background. but he had come 20 years earlier. by the time reverend king comes he's already successful. so he sees this woman sitting on the porch, this porch you just saw and he decides someday she's going to marry me. but i know i have to get educated first. i have to go to grammar school. studies, finally gets out of grammar school and then decides
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now i need to go to moore house college. it's a bit of a jump, but the president is john hope. and with a little bit of encouragement, because reverend williams, he saw this was happening. he saw this guy would have the same kind of drive and ambition he had as a young man, so he puts in a good word with president hope. now, if they had had sat scores during that time, he would have never gotten in. but fortunately, he can say this person, he doesn't have very much of an education, but he will work as hard as he can to get through. so at the time when martin luther king moves into the williams' home, it's because he's a student. he gets married in the mid-1920s
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to alberta after a long courtship. it takes about five years before they finally get married. but he decides he's going to go and get into moore house. he gets in kind of on probation. but he's going to work really hard. so his three children -- or the first two children, christine is born in 1927. he's just -- he's still an undergraduate at moore house. martin -- michael junior is born in 1929. he's still finishing up. and even when a.d. williams was born in 1930, he's also finishing up his ministerial studies tat moore house.
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so all of this is taking place while he's still trying to gain his own stature. and once reverend williams dies in 1931 and he becomes the preacher, the pastor of this church, what we see is that he has this drive. he wants to not only achieve what reverend womeniuilliams ha achieved, but he wants to achieve even more. he wants to go out and create his own legacy. and he comes to the ministry during a depression at a time when it's very difficult to bring ensoin some new members, especially members that could provide some donations to bring the church along. so he brings the church to the 30s by providing services, food,
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help with housing. the church becomes a social service agency as well as a place for religious guidance. the kind of things we would later refer to as a social gospel. so this is the environment that martin grows up in. but, again, at that point he's still michael king. how does he become martin king? well, that happens as part of that drive by his father to achieve respectability. and he changes his name -- now, he later explains that he changes his name because his father had had a brother named martin, another brother named luther. but he understood the symbolism of martin luther. he had just been to germany,
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berlin, in 1934 for the world congress of baptist. this is the first time -- it's the 100 years after the modern founding of baptism as a religious denomination, and they have a world conference. and here is reverend king, one of perhaps a dozen black ministers who make it all way to berlin in 1934 to attend this wonderful meeting. and he comes back, and by that time this is a symbol of how he is achieved. he makes this decision i'm going to change my name, and of course that change his son because he's a junior. so now they become the reverend martin luther king, jr., martin luther king, jr. now, i'm giving you this background because i think this helps to explain why this place is so important, why the birth
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home a block up the street is such an important place. this is where literally martin luther king, jr., achieve his ident. th and this is the remarkable thing that comes through in his autobiography, religious development. that is the first thing he writes during his first year at the seminary. he writes this 14-page hand written paper. and i would love to show you it just to see the way in which he kind of sketches out his life, says that i was born in 1929 and on the eve of the great depression, which had spread its disastrous arms throughout the nation. and that's how he comes to his
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anti-ca ant anti-capitalist view of the world. that's all in the first paragraph. and if you've ever read a document that revealed so much just from the beginning. and many of uibclass understand that because it's the beginning of biography. because it seemed like a good place to begin martin luther king's story. but what i would like to emphasize is it in so many ways influenced the person we honor today. because he also talks about the influence of his father. he doesn't spend as much time with his mother. he says she is behind the scenes taking care of those essential things that you need in life. l he talks about his grandmother who he seems to have this special attachment to. she's described as his saintly
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grandmother who told these wonderful stories about the origins of the family. what else does he look at? well, i think what it does is allows us to understand the most important decision he makes during the first 20 years of his life. and that is the decision to become a minister. because you might assume that because his grandfather's a minister, his father's a minister, well, of course, he's going to become a minister. but actually for exactly those reasons he decided, no, i'm not going to become a minister. that's not what i want to do. why was that? well, partly it was just youthful rebelliousness, of not wanting to follow the lead of parents. but i think it had a deeper root, and it comes through in the autobiography. and that is his early religious
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doubts. now, we're at ebenezer church. we were just in the basement of this church where they had sunday school. what happens in sunday school that shapes him? well, he begins to learn things in sunday school. maybe some of you have the same experience. as you get older, you begin to doubt some of those things. in this sanctuary an incident happens when he was -- it says in there about -- i think we dated it about 7 years old when it happens. but there's a religious revival that takes place here. a visiting minister, one of ways in which ministers built their congrug congregations, they would invite a revivalist to come in.
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usually a person who could get to the emotions of people. people would come to the service and testify about accepting jesus as their savior. well, what does martin luther king experience during that? he sees -- he's sitting in the church. just imagine this. he's sitting there. he's the preacher's son. his sister, his older sister comes up. he's sitting there, okay, do i go up? do i not go up? and he decides to come forward with her. and later he says, you know, he felt bad about that. why? because he was not doing that out of inner conviction. he was doing that to keep up with his sister. so that becomes one of the shaping things that he talks about in the autobiography that
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shaped his religious views. then what happens later? he gets to about 13, he says. he's in the basement in the sunday school class, and he starts to question the bodily resurrection of jesus. he said, that doesn't sound right. and he questions whether to take that literally or just figuratively. well, a 13-year-old is not supposed to be doing that, but martin luther king starts to question. and he said these doubts began to come fourth unrelentingly once he began to question. so of course he's not going to make the decision to -- to follow his father into the ministry as long as he has these doubts. so the theme of the autobiography is that struggle
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to overcome these doubts. so in the process of that 14-page document you can trace the beginnings of his consciousness as a religious person because he has to overcome these doubts or else he can't make that decision to become a minister. how does he overcome that? well, it happens at moore house college. he goes to moore house college, and he takes the only course at moore house of which he gets an "a." should give hope to some of you, that you can achieve great things without a wonderful gpa. but what happens that's his only class on religion that he takes at moore house. and it's taught by a professor
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named george kelsey. i had the privilege of meeting george kelsey. and he's a wonderful we well-educated person where i could see how martin would see him as a role model. from his father he gets this religion of what i would call the old-time religion. it's a lot of emotion but not too much emphasis on theology and reason and things like that. so from george kelsey what he gets is that you have to get behind the mist of the bible, that a lot of these stories you have to understand what is their deeper meaning. george kelsey is a well-educated person who had studied the
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bible, understood a lot of the historical context, practicing what we would call today historical criticism of the bible, seeing it as a historical document. seeing it as something you could go back and question why did they write this the way they did? and so what you find from that is that here he is doing this when probably most of us are not really questing the way he did. i think what is really striking is that he's doing this at 13, 14, 15 years old. at a time when most of us kind of accept things without too much deeper thought about it. so he goes through this period of questioning, and he goes to kelsey's course. and he teaches him the rudiments
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of how do you look at the bible as a historical document? something that he really is drawn to, and later actually when he goes off to the t theological seminary, one of the things he finds is by going to this very liberal -- and what i mean by liberal is within this spectrum of theological seminaries, there are those who teach the bible, this is a word of god, don't question a single word of it to the other extreme to saying this is something you could question just like any other historical document. in fact, one of the things you'll remember from reading taylor branch's account, spending the first time breaking down the believes you think you
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have before building up believes that can withstand criticism. so by the time he leaves high school, and of course, he enters moore house one year early, so he's 15 years old. still a young person. he gets there and begins to see from kelsey's class, which he takes while he's there, a way of reconciling the admiration he has for his father. that comes through in the autobiography. he admires his father's commitment, his father's commitment to change society, to bring justice. and his father has the basis of the social gospel, but he also has a more fundamentalist view of the bible. so what young martin wants to do is to take that commitment that
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he sees in his father and combine it with the aerodition, the ind letellectualism of a jo kelsey and benjamin maze. these are highly educated ministers, passionate in their religious belief but also intellectuals. so i think that what we get from understanding the importance of being him is that this is where it all happened. i mean within two blocks of here the important events of martin luther king's life occurred. this is what shaped him into the person that we know, and we can
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trace that through his own writings, through the writings of daddy king, from other documents we have from this period. and one of things that i -- that is very much a central part of the papers of martin luther king that we've edited is that so many of those papers are religious papers, that he had to work things out in terms of his religious belief, and that that was the fundamental basis of martin luther king. so just to conclude i would say that if we -- if we looked closely at those papers, what we find is that he is defining his mission as a minister. in one of the early papers that he does at crosier theological
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seminary, his first year there he's asked by a professor, what's going to guide your ministry? and he said i'm going to deal with slums, unemployment, economic insecurity. civil rights is not on the list. what is he doing 20 years later? this is 1948. what is he doing in 1968? what kind of issues is he dealing with in the poor peoples campaign? slums, economic and security. so when i look at the martin luther king who had his experiences right here at ebenezer and at the home up the street is that we can see that this is the essential martin luther king. this is the inner martin luther king. a lot of the other things that
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we think we know about him are what i would call the external martin luther king. sometimes i even call it the king myth. because when we look at it from the point of view of the person who emerged from this experience, we see that he was shaped in a way that was not fundamentally changed when he went to montgomery and rosa parks turned a social gospel preacher into a civil rights leader. and i think most of us would agree that for the next ten years he did a pretty good job as a civil rights leader. i mean all those changes that took place from the montgomery bus boycott to the passage of the voting rights act, he could
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have very well said i didn't ask for this job. i was kind of asked to take this job as a civil rights leader, but i did a pretty good job. please let me go home and rest. i've kind of accomplished -- because the voting rights act is the last major piece of civil rights legislation. but if you see his life in the sweep of the direct line from the experiences that occurred on this block and in this neighborhood to 1968, he would reach that time of 1965 and say my work's not done. that's not my mission. my mission was much deeper than that. and that explains why the person who helped pass the voting rights act ends up a year later in chicago working in one of it
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poorest areas of chicago, and later than that launching the poor peoples campaign and ending up in memphis. so we're here, and i think that one of the things that would be so good -- one of things that's so good about being here is not just simply being in this building. but we also have some of witnesses, at least one of the great witnesses of martin luther king's life, reverend c.t. vivian, who is someone that kind of shared that social gospel notion of christianity, and someone that knew martin luther king during the main years of his life. so i think we're very privileged to be in this wonderful setting and have one of the witnesses, one of the persons whose memory
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is still very much alive. i hate to refer to as an artifact, a historical artifact, but we can learn so much -- so much. yeah, you're not finished yet. you're not finished making history. so thank you so much. i just want to open it up for any questions you might have. this is the place to ask them. please. let's see if we can -- >> did dr. king's experiences kind of growing up in the church and being a preacher kind of influence his leadership style and the movement? >> so the question is what
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influence did this have on his leadership style and the movement? there's lots of different ways to answer thal question, but one of the documents we have is when he takes his first pulpit. here he was under the eye always of his father. sometimes he would come back in the summer and serve as the minister, give his father time to take a vacation, things like that. but when he went to dexter avenue baptist church and took the pastorship of that church, his father gave him some advice. based on his knowledge of how you run a church. because remember the baptist church is somewhat unique in the sense that they can hire but they can also fire a minister, okay? so there is this balance.
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and so reverend king, who knew this told his son you have to have a firm hand. so we have this document where martin is talking about -- he's giving one of his first sermons to his congregation. and he said that in the church authority comes from the pulpit to the pew, not from the pew to the pulpit. why was that? because the minister represented an understanding of the word of god. and if you don't accept that authority, get another minister. now, there was that aspect of martin luther king where some of the young people or someone like ellen baker didn't really get along that well with that idea
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that in the civil rights world authority comes from the pulpit to the pews. there was that sense in a group like snick, well, we're a grass roots organization and some of the authority has to come from the grass roots up to the leaders. but it really did affect the way in which he viewed his role in the movement. yes? >> at what point in your life did you decide that, i guess, studying mlk and his leg oswacy the right path for you? >> question had to do with what point in my life, in some ways i think i was almost destined to do it in the sense that when i look back everything seems to --
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you know, i was at the march on washington. i met mrs. king when i was doing research on my book on snick. john hope franklin, the great historian of his time recommended me to her. but having said all that, there's -- there's just the serendipity of i was -- because at that time i really believed more in the snick view of bottom up. one of the things about my first book in "struggle" is that it's a story of the movement from the grass roots up. it's not from king's perspective. s so that was my thrust. so i always wondered why she entrusted me with that mission
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because she knew that. she knew that i had written that book, and i suspected she had read it. but i think that she understood that even though i came to it with that perspective i would come with a sympathy for the movement, but also i would learn over time. i remember the first paper i gave after becoming editor of martin luther king's paper, it was at a conference at the capitol. and martin luther king, it was one of first conferences after the national holiday. so i'm invited to give this very, you know, public speech, and all the papers given at the conference were published. and who's is that front row? mrs. king but also bob moses, the main organizer from snick.
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so here i am. i'm a snick person, but i'm giving a talk now as editor of martin luther king's papers. so i gave this talk, and the conclusion of it was that the movement would have happened even if martin luther king had not been born. and i firmly believed that. i looked out and here's coretta scott king. she's kind of frowning. and i'm kind of thinking, you know, maybe i'm not going to be lasting long in this job. but what that did is it forced me to also rethink my own attitudes. because every time i applied for a grant to do the king papers i had to say why is this important? why is it important if the
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movement had happened if even if king had never been born, why is it important? what did king provide to the movement? so one way of understanding the last 30 years of my life is answering that question. i have to answer that question every day, every year. and each year i hope my answer becomes more sophisticated, that i understand that there was something essential. and what i think was essential was that he was a visionary, that there were a lot of people who were good at mobilizing people. there were organizers. there were people like bob moses who were essential to the movement, and there were people who were -- you know, even in montgomery. is joan robinson less important than that of martin luther king?
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i think she's more important. of the bus boycott martin luther king didn't become the leader until it was successful. how did that happen? how did you have a success bow caught without martin luther king? isn't it successful as a leader when we already have a successful movement, but we want to keep it going and make it to the second day, the third day? so in sort of fits this bottom up view of the movement. but if you ask yourself, you get to the 200th day of the boycott and things aren't changing, who is going to provide the inspiration about what are the visionary goals? because if you think about it,
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most movements don't make sense. how can you have, you know, like a strike or any kind of movement, a boycott? you put yourself with suffering. 381 days of people, some of them having to walk to work, some of them having to find ways of getting there. and these are maids. these are people who can say, okay, i'm going to drive to work today. so from that point of view you can look at it and say rationally by that 200th day they're saying -- they might say maybe i should ride on the bus. at least i get a ride and it's raining outside and it's cold. and that makes perfect sense. but what if you're listening to
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the montgomery improvement association rallies that night, and martin luther king is saying, no, this is not about getting a better seat on the bus? this is about something that's going to affect your sense of dignity as a person. this is something that is about the sermon on the mount. this is about the declaration of the independence. in other words, this is about certain kinds of transcendent values, that even when you have to walk to work in the rain, you don't want to go back and sit on that bus. and so i think that that's kind of the way i would balance it now, of understanding that each of them had their roles. it was a complex movement. and lots of different people were in it who played perhaps the most important role they would play during their
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lifetime. because that's what makes a great movement. and martin luther king played his role, and that's what led him to be the great leader that we know. so maybe one final question. okay. >> you mentioned to us before in class that martin luther king believed that communism did what christianity ought to do. is there any evidence he continued to hold that belief throughout his later years or -- >> yeah, it's interesting, the question about whether that sermon that martin luther king's communism to challenge
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christianity. he gives that before the bus boycott. c.t., were you familiar with that? >> you were in a situation where we're in a capitalistic country, right? >> yeah. >> and we have to find where one starts, and this is why the religion worked so well with it, right, because we're talking about where are your values. are they really from the politics of your nation, or are they from the deeper spirit of your nation, right? so the ministry works perfectly here because the two are tied together there. and you can have one without the other, but you can't -- but it takes both of them to keep a
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capitalistic country going. >> well, one of things i would also just add to the reverend's statement is that part of the idea that king had about the social gospel is he said that -- at one point in his life he says i didn't need to read karl marx to know that we should care about the poor and do justice to those who are less fortunate. that comes from the sermon on the mount, that any christian should know that. and so part of what he was trying to get across is that if christianity, if christians understood the message that goes back even before jesus, back to
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amos, isaiah, the great prophets, what was the message they were bringing to the people? the message was you have a religious obligation to do this and god demands demand, that is going to bring bad things to the jewish people. well, maybe by looking at it in that perspective, martin luther king would conclude that communism answers the right question, but with the wrong answer. that the right question is, how do we build a just society? but what it -- the difference would be that a communist would say by any means necessary, you know, that the means justify -- the ends justify the means. and he is saying that the means that you use to get to that end,
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that determines what you get in the end. if you use force to get to the end, you have to maintain yourself by using force. because whoever is on the other side is not going to suddenly give up. so you have people who were going to be trying to overturn the revolution. you have the counterrevolution. then you have maybe another revolution. and the cycle of violence just goes on. so his view was the only way you overcome that cycle is to understand that the means have to be humane, have to be consistent with your moral principles. and in that way you build the possibility of a reconciled society, what he would call the beloved community. that you would have a society -- and he would point to the
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differences between, say, countries that achieved their independence, nonviolently predominantly, and those who had to go through revolutionary violence. he said look at the end result. that you don't find in india today indians still fighting over the same things that they were fighting over a hundred years ago. but they can be -- they can understand, they can become reconciled with their former colonizers. now, that's an interesting kind of way of looking at things. and i think that he understood -- now, one of the things about that sermon is that i've looked at that sermon very carefully, and a lot of the basic ideas come from a sermon that his father gave more than a
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decade earlier. and that he gives this sermon in 1953. but he also gives a very similar sermon in 1963. so you have 20 years from his father to the son where they're basically making the very same argument. and that's not that surprising because they go back to the same biblical sources, the prophets. and they basically say that this is the -- you know, one of the things that i think becomes clear after reading martin luther king is that it helps us understand a lot of current debates going on about the world of religion, where there's a lot of emphasis on whether leviticus has these passages against home sexuality, all of these sorts of things that are part of the
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bible. and people have to decide, okay, well, what am i going to emphasize as the essential teachings of my religion? but if you just do a search on doing justice to the poor, the idea that that is an essential characteristic of any christian, you find that there's hundreds of mentions. it certainly is the most commonly mentioned theme, and yet what happens in some churches? you focus on the one passage, and you miss the hundred other mentions of doing justice to those less fortunate. so what do you take as the basic message that you should come with this? i think mariltin luther king wod come to it with that notion,
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that first of all religion is about changing the world as well as changing the soul. he talked about that in terms of the dual mission of christianity, that some ministers say doesn't matter what's happening in that world. all that you should be concerned about is your soul. and then there are others who would say you've got to deal with both. why? because he says in one of these early papers it's a dual process. you have to be concerned about the soul as well as the society in which the soul exists. and unless you're concerned about both sides of that equation, you can't really service the needs of your congregation. that's it. thanks. [ applause ]
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>> announcer: you're watching american history tv, 48 hours of programming on american history every weekend on c-span 3, follow us on twitter for information and the schedule and to keep up on the latest history news. >> american history 26 is on c-span 3 every weekend featuring museum tours, archival films and programs on the presidency, the civil war and more. here's a clip from a recent program. >> the size of the brain that counts, it's what it can do. and tests have shown that our three average men are equal. if you take their skins off, there's no way to tell them apart. the heart, liver, lungs, blood, everything's the same. >> everything's the same, heart, liver, lungs, blood.
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no, not blood. blood's different. >> well, there are four different types of blood. "a," "b," ab and "o." >> patients in room 216, needs a trans fusion rights away. >> i'll give it to him, i'm his brother. stanley, he's dead. >> yes, but he wouldn't be if we'd been more scientific about it. brother or no brother, what he needs is type "a." and the right blood donor for him could belong to any race since the four blood types appear in all races. >> say, we're not really so different at all. like you say, it's just the
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frills. wait a minute. i've got a question. how come we live like this, and -- >> it wasn't always that way. for instance, at a stage of history when the so-called pure whites of northern europe were little better than savages, the darker skinned mixed peoples of the near east and africa had flourishing cultures. the great civilization of northern china had begun to develop. all peoples contributed to civilization, reaching high levels at different times, and each learning from the experience of the other.
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but there were certain basic ideas which were common to all branches of the human race. belief in the supreme being, in the home, and the family. how civilized a person is depends on the surroundings in which he grows up. the differences in the way people behave are not inherited from their ancestors. they come from something called cultural experience, or environment. >> you can watch this and other american history programs on our website, where all our video is archived. that's in 2015 "new york times" photo editor darcy eveleigh discovered dozens of african-americans in the newspapers archives. the images included many well-known civil rights leaders
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as well as ordinary citizens. eventually led to the book "unseen." next on american history tv darcy eveleigh and co-author rachel swarns show photographs from the book and talk about the stories behind the images. the smithsonian associates hosted this event. it's an hour and 15 minutes. i'm lauren rosenberg with smithsonian associates, and it's my pleasure to welcome you to tonight's program. to our members i'm so glad you're here. it's your support that makes events like tonight's possible. to the many of you joining us for the first time, an equally warm welcome and an invitation to explore the wide range of programs we offer here at smithsonian associates. before we begin, now is the perfect time to turn off your cell phone or anything else that might make noise during the program. thank you for doing that. in february of 2016 a team of "new york times" staffers


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