By: Ashleigh Coren

Not enough people know that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. lived in Boston for a short period of time as a PhD student studying systematic theology. It wasn’t just the place where he received his divinity degree; it was also where he met musician and activist Coretta Scott and also gained an important mentor, Howard Thurman. Thurman was “first African American Dean at a predominately white institution in the United States” (Howard Thurman Center) who was instrumental in shaping King’s views on non-violence. And of course, the holiday largely exists because of Coretta Scott King’s efforts to preserve her husband’s contributions to our democracy. As a native Bostonian, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is not just about the legacy of a complex and brilliant person; it is also about connections he made in my city, the power of mentorship, and the unsung contributions of women whose hopes and dreams have always played a role in public leadership.

To learn more about Martin Luther King, Jr., Howard Thurman, and Coretta Scott King:

“Coretta Scott King”. Women’s History. Gale Virtual Reference Library.

Coretta Scott King speaks at Harvard’s Class Day in 1968. Harvard University. YouTube.

“About Mrs. Coretta Scott King.” The King Center.

“Andrew Young Remembers Coretta Scott King.” NPR.

“Backs Against The Wall: The Howard Thurman Story.” National Programs – Maryland Public Television.

“Thurman, Howard.” Martin Luther King, Jr. Encyclopedia, The King Institute. Stanford University.

“Who is Howard Thurman?” Boston University Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground.

“This Theologian Helped MLK See the Value of Nonviolence.” Paul Harvey, Smithsonian Magazine.  

“Memories of Martin Luther King, Jr. as a BU Student.” David Biddell, Boston University School of Theology Blog. 

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