"I have been accepted in Boston University Graduate School as a regular student and a candidate for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the field of Systematic Theology": Exceptionally Rare Autograph Letter Signed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. before beginning graduate studies at Boston University in 1951

  • Martin Luther King Autograph Letter Signed.
  • Martin Luther King Autograph Letter Signed.

Martin Luther King Autograph Letter Signed.

$18,500.00

Item Number: 82416

Boston: 1951.

Typescript autograph letter signed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. requesting housing upon his acceptance to Boston University Graduate School. The letter, dated June 15th 1951 and addressed to Dean Charles W. Alter, Boston University Graduate School, reads, “Dear Dean Alter, I have been accepted in Boston University Graduate School as a regular student and a candidate for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the field of Systematic Theology. I am now interested in finding living accommodations on the campus, or at least very near by. A single room would be preferable. If such is possible I would appreciate having it reserved. I am also interested in applying for a graduate Fellowship. Please send me the necessary information at this point along with an application blank. Thanks in advance for your cooperation, I am Sincerely yours, Martin L. King, Jr.” King later recalled his experience with housing bias in 1951 Boston in an interview with the Boston Globe in 1965, “I remember very well trying to find a place to live. I went into place after place where there were signs that rooms were for rent. They were for rent until they found out I was a Negro, and suddenly they had just been rented.” Double matted and framed, with a photograph of a young King. The entire piece measures 14 inches by 21.75 inches. This letter offers an extraordinary glimpse into the education of the great African-American Civil Rights leader, exemplifying his own experiences with the systemic racism in 1950s American society.

Martin Luther King, Jr. first received recognition for his outstanding skills as a public speaker as a student at Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta, Georgia. He received early acceptance into the Liberal Arts program at the historically black Morehouse College at the age of 15, also in Atlanta, and at age 18 decided to enter the ministry. After graduating from Morehouse in 1948 with a B.A. in Sociology, King enrolled in Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania where he graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Divinity in 1951. That same year, he applied to Graduate School at Boston University where, in June of 1955, he received his Ph.D. in Systematic Theology with a dissertation titled A Comparison of the Conceptions of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman. While pursuing doctoral studies, King worked as an assistant minister at Boston's historic Twelfth Baptist Church with Reverend William Hunter Hester, a friend of King's father who became an important influence on King's later work.

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