On August 28, 1963 hundreds of thousands of demonstrators flocked to the nation’s capital for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. It was Clayborne Carson’s first demonstration. A nineteen year old black student from a working-class family in New Mexico, Carson hitched a ride to Washington. Unsure how he would return home, he was nonetheless certain that he wanted to connect with the youthful protesters and community organizers who spearheaded the freedom struggle. Decades later, Coretta Scott King selected Dr. Carson—then a history professor at Stanford University-- to edit the papers of her late husband.
In this candid and engrossing memoir, he traces his evolution from political activist to activist scholar. He vividly recalls his involvement in the movement’s heyday and in the subsequent turbulent period when King’s visionary Dream became real for some and remained unfulfilled for others. He recounts his conversations with key African Americans of the past half century, including Black Power firebrand Stokely Carmichael and dedicated organizers such as Ella Baker and Bob Moses. His description of his long-term relationship with Coretta Scott King sheds new light on her crucial role in preserving and protecting her late husband’s legacy.
Written from the unique perspective of a renowned scholar, this highly readable account gives readers valuable new insights about the global significance of King’s inspiring ideas and his still unfolding legacy.