Clayborne Carson, the Martin Luther King, Jr., Centennial Professor and professor of history, emeritus, at Stanford’s School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University, has been named a recipient of the 2023 Freedom Award presented by the National Civil Rights Museum.
In 1985, Professor Carson was asked by Coretta Scott King, Dr. King’s widow, to direct The King Papers Project with the mission of assembling and publishing the collected papers of her late husband. Dr. Carson later founded the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute at Stanford to disseminate educational materials based on the institute’s documentary resources by and about Dr. King and other participants in the Civil Rights Movement. Carson is the author and editor of numerous books, including the first seven volumes of The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr. (University of California Press, 1992, 1994, 1997, 2000, 2005, 2007, and 2014).
“I am, of course, tremendously appreciative of the National Civil Rights Museum for recognizing my work, which is ongoing,” Professor Carson said. “Making it especially meaningful was that I learned I would receive the Freedom Award right after finding out I had had a stroke. It was the best news to speed my recovery.”
Dr. Carson added that “for me, the award is a recognition of the important role the historian plays in ensuring the lessons of the Civil Rights Movement are never forgotten. When I came to Stanford in 1974, I wanted to move beyond the usual outlets of the historian — the classroom, books, and lectures — to expand what it means to be a historian. The Freedom Award is a recognition that I have achieved that important goal.”
Professor Carson holds bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. degrees from the University of California at Los Angeles.