Stanford University The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute
Volume II: Rediscovering Precious Values, July 1951-November 1955, Chronology

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Date Event
2 Sept 1951 Martin Luther King, Jr., preaches “What Is Man?” and “What Think Ye of Christ?” at Ebenezer.
13 Sept 1951- 15 Jan 1952 During his first term at Boston University’s School of Theology, King enrolls in Personalism, Formal Logic, Philosophy of Religion, Directed Study in Systematic Theology, and Seminar in Systematic Theology.
16 Sept King is the guest preacher at the Reverend Gardner Taylor’s Concord Baptist Church in Brooklyn.
2 Oct Boston University approves King’s outline of study.
22 Nov King, Jr., attends his parents’ twenty-fifth wedding anniversary celebration in Atlanta.
23 Jan-16 May 1952 For his second semester at Boston, King takes three courses: Religious Teachings of the New Testament, Directed Study in Systematic Theology, and Seminar in Systematic Theology.
Feb King begins to date Coretta Scott, a student at the New England Conservatory of Music.
4 Feb- 10 June As a “special student” at Harvard University, King enrolls in the History of Modern Philosophy.
15 Feb King passes French examination at Boston University, partially fulfilling the language requirement.
16 Mar King preaches at Ebenezer’s celebration of its sixty-fifth anniversary and of King, Sr.’s twentieth anniversary as its pastor.
18 May King preaches “The Relevance of the Holy Spirit” at Ebenezer.
25 May King delivers “The Prevalence of Practical Atheism” at Ebenezer.
26 May- 5 July King takes two courses during the intersession at Boston University: Seminar in Historical Theology and History of Recent Philosophy.
22 June King is initiated into Boston’s Sigma chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha social fraternity.
12 July- 7 Sept King serves as pastor in charge at Ebenezer.
24 July King attends the annual session of Georgia’s Sunday School and Baptist Training Union Congress in Atlanta.
Aug Coretta Scott visits Atlanta and meets the King family for the first time.
10 Aug King preaches “The Challenge of Communism to Christianity” at Ebenezer.
24 Aug King is Youth Day speaker at Pilgrim Baptist Church in Atlanta.
7 Sept King preaches “Mental and Spiritual Slavery” at Ebenezer.
22 Sept 1952- 28 Jan 1953 During the first term of his second year at Boston, King takes four courses: Religious Teachings of the Old Testament, History of Christian Doctrine I, Seminar in Philosophy (Hegel), and Seminar in the History of Philosophy.
22 Sept 1952- 26 Jan 1953 King enrolls in the Philosophy of Plato at Harvard.
10 Oct King fails Boston University’s German examination.
6 Nov Shaw University President William R. Strassner asks King to apply to become the university’s dean of religion.
Nov King, Sr., and Alberta Williams King visit Boston.
Fall King preaches at John Street Baptist Church in Worcester, Massachusetts.
26 Jan- 2 June 1953 King’s final course at Harvard is on the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead.
4 Feb- 22 May King enrolls in his last courses at Boston: History of Christian Doctrine 11, Seminar in Philosophy (Hegel), and Directed Study in Thesis and Dissertation Writing.
18 Feb On his second attempt, King passes the German examination, thus completing Boston University’s language requirement.
25 Feb King’s academic advisor at Boston University, Edgar S. Brightman, dies. King later chooses L. Harold DeWolf as his new advisor.
Apr Obadiah and Bernice Scott announce the engagement of Coretta Scott and Martin Luther King, Jr.
19 Apr King speaks at First United Baptist Church in Lowell, Massachusetts, at the invitation of its pastor, the Reverend Otto R. Loverude. King gives a talk on “What it means to be a Negro in the Deep South” and preaches the sermon “What Does It Mean to Believe in God?”
7 May In a public debate with John Wesley Dobbs, King, Sr., supports Atlanta Mayor William B. Hartsfield’s campaign for reelection.
18 June King, Sr., performs the marriage ceremony of King, Jr., and Coretta Scott at the Scott home near Marion, Alabama.
21 June King preaches “By These Things Men Live” at Ebenezer’s morning services and “Does It Pay to Be Faithful?” in the evening. King, Sr., baptizes Coretta Scott King.
Summer Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King spend the summer in Atlanta. King serves as Ebenezer’s pastor in charge, and Coretta Scott King works in a local bank.
Summer King attends an interseminary conference at Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia.
28 June King preaches “Accepting Responsibility for Your Actions” at Ebenezer.
5 July Atlanta’s WERD, the nation’s first radio station owned and operated by African-Americans, begins broadcasting from Ebenezer for several months.
12 July King preaches “Transformed Non-Conformists” at Ebenezer.
19 July Clark College Dean of Women Phoebe Burney is the Women’s Day speaker at Ebenezer. Coretta Scott King is the featured soloist at the morning service.
26 July King preaches “God’s Revelation to the World” at Ebenezer.
2 Aug King preaches “Dressing Christ in False Robes” at Ebenezer.
9 Aug King delivers the sermon “The Tragedy of Almost” at Ebenezer.
16 Aug King preaches “Lord, Is It I?” at Ebenezer.
23 Aug King delivers the sermon “Self-Examination” at Ebenezer.
30 Aug King delivers the sermon “Opportunity, Fidelity, and Reward” at Ebenezer’s morning services; in the evening, he preaches at Pilgrim Baptist Church
6 Sept King preaches “The Dimensions of a Complete Life” at Ebenezer.
8-14 Sept King attends the annual meeting of the National Baptist Convention in Miami. The Reverend J. H. Jackson, pastor of Olivet Baptist Church in Chicago, is elected president of the convention.
Sept The Kings rent an apartment at 396 Northampton Street in Boston and resume their studies.
Nov Alberta Williams King and King, Sr., spend two weeks in New York and Boston.
15 Nov King preaches at the Reverend J. Timothy Boddie’s New Shiloh Baptist Church in Baltimore, Maryland.
22 Nov King preaches at the Reverend J. L. Henry’s Tenth Street Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.
21 Dec King leaves Boston for vacation in Atlanta.
1 Jan 1954 King attends the Emancipation Day celebration sponsored by the Atlanta branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) at the City Auditorium. The Reverend J. H. Jackson gives the annual address.
3 Jan King preaches in the morning at Ebenezer.
10 Jan King preaches in the morning at Ebenezer.
17 Jan King delivers a trial sermon at First Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
24 Jan King delivers a trial sermon, “The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life,” at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.
Dexter’s former pastor Vernon Johns preaches “Segregation After Death” at Ebenezer.
28 Feb At the invitation of the Reverend A. A. Banks, Jr., King preaches “Rediscovering Lost Values” at Second Baptist Church in Detroit.
7 Mar King is in Lansing, Michigan, to preach at his uncle Joel Lawrence King’s church in the morning and evening. He also addresses the local branch of the NAACP in the afternoon.
By a unanimous vote, Dexter Avenue Baptist Church calls King to its pastorate.
1 Apr King’s Boston University transcript indicates that he has passed his qualifying examinations.
4 Apr King meets with the pulpit committee at Dexter.
9 Apr Boston University approves King’s outline of his dissertation.
14 Apr King accepts the call to Dexter’s pastorate.
25 Apr King preaches at the Reverend Leonard G. Carr’s Vine Memorial Baptist Church in Philadelphia.
26 Apr The Kings host a meeting of a black graduate study group, the Dialectical Society, at their Boston apartment.
10 May Professor L. Harold DeWolf lectures at a meeting of the Dialectical Society; King offers the opening prayer.
16 May King preaches at the Thirty-third Annual Memorial Service of the Pullman Porters’ Benefit Association of America at Union Baptist Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
17 May In Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, the U.S. Supreme Court declares racial segregation in public schools unconstitutional.
30 May King preaches “Loving Your Enemies” at Dexter and presides over the ordination of deacons. He spends the summer commuting between Boston and Montgomery.
13 June At the invitation of the Reverend Thomas Kilgore, Jr., King preaches at Friendship Baptist Church in Harlem, New York City.
15 June Coretta Scott King receives her bachelor of music degree in music education from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston.
22 June King, Sr., addresses the opening session of the National Baptist Sunday School and Baptist Training Union Congress in Birmingham, Alabama.
11 July King preaches “What Is Man?” for Men’s Day at Dexter.
1 Sept King begins his pastorate at Dexter.
5 Sept King delivers his first sermon as pastor of Dexter and presents his “Recommendations to the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church for the Fiscal Year 1954- 1955,” which are accepted by the congregation.
6-11 Sept King, Jr., Alberta Williams King, and King, Sr., attend the National Baptist Convention in St. Louis.
9 Sept King, Jr., speaks to the Women’s Convention at the request of its president, Nannie Helen Burroughs. King’s noonday message is “The Vision of the World Made New.”
4-10 Oct Phoebe Burney is the guest speaker for Women’s Emphasis Week at Dexter.
20-21 Oct King attends the Montgomery-Antioch District Association’s annual meeting at Hutchinson Street Baptist Church in Montgomery. King is appointed to serve as reporter.
31 Oct At King, Jr.'s installation as pastor of Dexter, King, Sr., preaches the sermon, and Alberta Williams King conducts Ebenezer’s choir.
Nov King and Coretta Scott King spend two weeks in Boston working on a draft of his dissertation.
14 Nov King preaches at the Reverend William H. Hester’s Twelfth Baptist Church in Boston.
25 Nov The annual Thanksgiving program at Montgomery’s First Baptist Church features a solo by Coretta Scott King.
28 Nov King delivers the Men’s Day sermon at Atlanta’s Friendship Baptist Church, whose pastor is the Reverend Samuel W. Williams, his Morehouse philosophy professor.
12 Dec The Reverend Melvin H. Watson, the son of Ebenezer clerk P. O. Watson, delivers the Seventy-eighth Anniversary sermon at Dexter.
Jan 1955 King and H. Councill Trenholm, president of Alabama State College, Montgomery, deliver eulogies at the funeral of Alabama State professor James Milton Reynolds.
1 Jan Coretta Scott King sings a solo at an Emancipation Proclamation anniversary celebration at Holt Street Baptist Church.
11-13 Jan King attends the national board meeting of the National Baptist Convention in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The featured preacher is the Reverend C. L. Franklin, who delivers the sermon “God’s Wheels of Progress.”
23 Jan King delivers the speech “A Realistic Look at Race Relations” at a meeting of the Birmingham NAACP.
2 Feb The adjourned session of the Alabama Baptist State Convention meets at First Baptist Church. On 1 Feb King gives the invocation at a service for the group’s newly elected officers.
25 Feb King delivers the evening inspirational message on the final day of the Montgomery Baptist Bible Institute at the Holt Street Baptist Church.
1 Mar Following the Reverend M. C. Cleveland’s sermon, King speaks at a mass meeting for the National Baptist Convention’s Home Mission Board. The event, sponsored by the Baptist Ministers’ Conference of Montgomery, is held at Beulah Baptist Church.
2 Mar Claudette Colvin, 15, is arrested for allegedly violating Montgomery’s ordinance requiring segregation on the city’s buses. King, Jo Ann Robinson of the Women’s Political Council, Rosa Parks of the Montgomery NAACP, and others later meet with city and bus company officials.
6 Mar Coretta Scott King gives a voice recital at First Baptist Church.
8 Mar Coretta Scott King directs a “talent night” featuring local youth as part of Dexter’s Youth Emphasis Week.
13 Mar King’s Morehouse and Crozer classmate the Reverend Walter R. McCall is the guest speaker for Youth Emphasis Week at Dexter.
The church’s Baptist Youth Fellowship holds a symposium on “The Meaning of Integration for American Society,” featuring among other speakers Dexter member Cleveland Dennard and the Reverend Robert E. Hughes, executive director of the Alabama Council on Human Relations.
20 Mar King delivers the Sixty-eighth Anniversary sermon at Ebenezer.
23-24 Mar King attends a meeting in Nashville of the Advisory Council on Literature and Curriculum, National Baptist Training Union Board of the National Baptist Convention.
10 Apr King preaches for Easter services at Dexter.
15 Apr King delivers the final draft of his dissertation to Boston University.
17 Apr At the invitation of the Reverend Marvin Gibson, King preaches at Union Baptist Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
21 Apr King defends his dissertation before a faculty committee at Boston University.
24 Apr Alberta Williams King directs Ebenezer’s choir in a Sunday afternoon concert at Dexter.
27-29 Apr The Reverend Samuel D. Proctor, president of Virginia Union University in Richmond, gives a series of speeches for Dexter’s Spring Lecture Series.
30 Apr King serves as a resource and discussion leader at the annual state meeting of Hi-Y clubs at Alabama State College in Montgomery.
8 May King preaches “[The] Crisis Facing Present-Day Family Life in America” at Dexter’s Mother’s Day service.
15 May King delivers the baccalaureate sermon at the Alabama State College commencement in Montgomery.
22 May King preaches the baccalaureate sermon at Talladega County Training School in Renfroe, Alabama.
31 May The faculty of Boston University votes to confer the doctorate on King.
The Supreme Court issues an order to implement the May 1954 Brown v. Board of Education school desegregation ruling.
1 June The Reverend Archibald J. Carey, Jr., speaks at a citizenship rally sponsored by Alabama State College’s Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. King gives the benediction.
5 June King is awarded his doctorate from Boston University; he does not attend the commencement ceremony.
12 June The Reverend Major J. Jones preaches at Ebenezer.
19 June King preaches “Who Is Truly Great?” at Dexter. King delivers the keynote address at an Alabama NAACP regional mass meeting at Holt Street CME Church.
26 June King delivers a sermon titled “Discerning the Signs of History” at Dexter.
27 June - 3 July King attends the National Baptist Sunday School and Baptist Training Union Congress in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
3 July King preaches at Friendship Baptist Church in Harlem.
8 July - 3 Aug King, Sr., Alberta Williams King, and Christine King attend the Baptist World Alliance meeting in London, England.
10 July Morehouse president Benjamin Mays is the guest speaker for Men’s Day at Dexter.
17 July King preaches “Am I My Brother’s Keeper?” at Dexter.
22 July At the invitation of Dillard University president Albert W. Dent, King flies to New Orleans to discuss taking a position as dean of the new university chapel.
24 July King preaches “The Death of Evil upon the Seashore” at Dexter.
31 July King delivers “The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life” at the Tuskegee Institute chapel.
July King speaks on “The Three Levels of Love” at the monthly meeting of Dexter’s Young Matrons Club.
2-5 Aug King attends the Alabama Baptist State Sunday School and Baptist Training Union Congress at Holt Street Baptist Church in Montgomery. He serves on the Committee on Youth Parade with the Reverends Ralph D. Abernathy, U. J. Fields, J. C. Parker, A. W. Wilson, and other local ministers.
14 Aug King addresses the Montgomery NAACP.
18 Aug King hosts the monthly meeting of the Montgomery chapter of the Alabama Council of Human Relations at Dexter.
26 Aug Rosa Parks, secretary of the Montgomery NAACP, informs King that he has been elected to the executive committee.
28 Aug King preaches in the morning and evening for Men’s Day at the Reverend J. E. Moss’s Jackson Street Baptist Church in Birmingham.
Fourteen-year-old Emmett Till, a black teenager from Chicago, is murdered while vacationing with relatives near Money, Mississippi.
Aug The Montgomery NAACP submits a petition to the school board to integrate the city’s public schools.
6-11 Sept King, Jr., Alberta Williams King, and King, Sr., attend the annual meeting of the National Baptist Convention in Memphis, Tennessee. King, Sr., serves as a member of the convention’s board of directors.
9 Oct Lynette Saine Bickers, associate professor of education at Atlanta University, is the guest speaker for Women’s Day at Dexter.
16 Oct King delivers “The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life” at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
17-23 Oct At the invitation of Dean of Students Walter R. McCall, King is the guest speaker for Religious Emphasis Week at Fort Valley State College in Fort Valley, Georgia. The theme of the week is “Christ in Human Relations.” King preaches “The Dimensions of a Complete Life,” “What Is Man?” “Going Forward by Turning Back,” and “The Death of Evil upon the Seashore.” He also participates in panel discussions on “How Christianity Affects Our Fears,” “Christ and Race Relations,” “What Has Christianity to Say About Sex Standards?” “Christ and Business Relations,” and “Christ and Our Physical Surroundings.”
30 Oct King preaches “The Seeking God” at Dexter.
7 Nov King speaks at the fall institute of the local Baptist Training Union in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
17 Nov Yolanda Denise King, the Kings’ first child, is born.
20 Nov King preaches “The One-sided Approach of the Good Samaritan” at Dexter.
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