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Martin Luther King Fellows In Black Religious Studies, Inc. collection

 Collection — Box: 1-12
Identifier: 0000-0000-0000-0048

Scope and Contents note

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Fellows, Inc. Collection consists of correspondence, minutes, curriculum materials, financial documents, reports, photographs, printed publications, memorabilia, and media.

The bulk of the collection dates from 1972-1975, with some material dating up to the present. This collection gives insight into the many facets of the Black Church and Black Religious Studies.

Some of the significant correspondents with Henry H. Mitchell (director of the M.L.K. Fellows, Inc.) include James A. Joseph (granting director), Alan Green (executive director of the Irwin-Sweeney-Miller Foundation), and Leon Pacala (president of Colgate Rochester/Bexley Hall/Crozer seminaries).

Copies of Freeing the Spririt, The Magazine of Black Liturgy published by the National Office for Black Catholics, 1971-1978, as well as issues of the Colgate Rochester Divinity School Bulletin dating from 1967 to 1990 are included among the printed publications.


  • Creation: 1969-1990



All materials in this collection are either protected by copyright or are the property of the Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center, Inc., and/or the copyright holder as appropriate. For more information, please contact

Historical Note

When Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in April of 1968, the Black theological students at Colgate Rochester Divinity School requested a program and professorship in Black Church Studies as a memorial to what King represented as a pastor and leader of the Black Church. After a forced close-down of the school by the Black students and a series of fundraising efforts, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Professorship in Black Church Studies was established. This position was filled by Henry H. Mitchell (clergyman, educator, author and, at that time, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, Santa Monica, CA) on July 1, 1969, and the program of Black Church Studies at CRDS/BH/CTS was launched in September 1969.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Fellows project began as the result of an idea given to Dr. Mitchell for a research and writing project for the purpose of developing literature, curriculum, and bibliographical materials in the area of Black Church practice. This research project was planned to be a part of the requirements for an advanced graduate degree program proposed for the CRDS/BH/CTS. Dr. Mitchell submitted his idea to the Irwin-Sweeney-Miller Foundation and a planning grant of $2,000 was received. A proposal was submitted in June 1971 and funded with a sizable grant ($113,900) in November 1971. Meanwhile, the Colgate Rochester Divinity School (Baptist) faculty had been joined by faculties from Bexley Hall (Episcopal) and Crozer Theological Seminary (Baptist). This faculty group processed and approved the program academically. Twenty King Fellows were chosen to begin studies in the summer of 1972. These Black pastors/scholars represented a cross-section denominationally and geographically as well as a variety of talents and age-groups. A list of the faculty, consultants, Fellows and their research topics are identified in Freeing the Spirit (The Magazine of Black Liturgy, published by the National Office for Black Catholics) 2 (Fall 1973): 12-17. Box 8, Folder 2.

The original design of the project included five weeks of intensive study in West Africa (Summer 1972), six weeks of colloquia in Atlanta (1973) at the Interdenominational Theological Center, and six weeks of colloquia and writing at the sponsoring seminaries in 1974. The Fellows also studied in the West Indies and the Sea Islands off the coast of Georgia. Culminating their research and study, nineteen King Fellows completed dissertations and received Doctor of Ministry degrees at the June 1975 commencement ceremonies at the Rochester consortium. At this time the Fellows formed a corporation in the state of New York and met annually for the purpose of continuing the objectives of the grant.


5.5 Linear feet

Language of Materials



The collection is arranged into nine series as follows: Correspondence, professional; Minutes; Curriculum materials; Financial documents; Reports; Photographs; Printed publications; Memorabilia; and Media.

Donor note

The correspondence files and papers of the Martin Luther King Fellows in Black Religious Studies, Inc. were donataed by the M.L.K. Fellows, Inc., Henry H. Mitchell, and George B. Thomas. Henry H. Mitchell was the original director of the M.L.K. program in Black Church Studies at Colgate Rochester Divinity School/Bexley Hall/Crozer Theological Seminary (CRDS/BH/CTS), Rochester, NY. The M.L.K. Fellows, a community of prominent Black ministers/scholars, were engaged in a program of research and writing on the traditions of the Black Church as they impact the current professional practice of its ministry. This three-year program, sponsored by the Rochester consortium, was funded under an inital grant of $113,900 from the Irwin-Sweeney-Miller Foundation in Columbis, Indiana. The final grant assistance to the program totaled approximately $180,000.

The collection is approximately 5.5 linear ft. and is an outright gift to the Interdenominational Theological Center, Atlanta University Center/Robert W. Woodruff Library, Archives Research Center.

Processing Information

The Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library acknowledges the generous support of the National Endowment for Humanities - Humanities Collections and Reference Resources Implementation Project Grant in supporting the processing and digitization of a number of its major archival collections as part of the project: Spreading the Word: Expanding Access to African American Religious Archival Collections at the Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library

Martin Luther King Fellows in Black Religious Studies, Inc., collection,1969-1990
Finding aid prepared by Doris T. Shockley, 1990.
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Repository Details

Part of the Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center, Inc. Repository


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