Growth at Crozer

 

            After his years at Morehouse College, Martin Luther King shocked his family and many others when he decided to enroll at Crozer Theological Seminary.[1]  This was an unexpected move because Crozer was a predominantly white, liberal, American Baptist seminary. 

            When he got to seminary, it was harder than things had been for him in the past.  King was only 19 and dealing with classes that were difficult for people well into there twenties.  It is also somewhat shocking to hear what the administration had to say about King when he entered, “they could report only that he came from a fine family and was a little above average in scholarship.”[2]  Also, one would be very surprised to find out that Martin Luther King received a C in his first two public speaking classes.  Hard to imagine this from a man who might be considered one of the best communicators of all time. 

            Martin Definitely felt the pressure of being at the school.  Carson says, “As one of 11 black students in a student body of more than 90, King was self-consciously aware that he represented his race and was determined to do well in his studies.”[3]  In response to these thoughts he said, “I had a tendency to overdress, to keep my room spotless, my shoes perfectly shined, and my clothes immaculately pressed.”[4]  This represents the immense pressure that King felt to raise the image of the black race.  He knew that people would judge his race on their actions.  This would be even more obvious in his handling of non-violent protests. 

            It was not only his physical actions that began to shape King but also the actions of the mind.  King began to study things that black men in the south don’t often study.  “As King became absorbed in the concerns of philosophical or systematic theology, he did not abandon his interest in Christian Ethics and the social role of the Christian church”. [5]  Along with the theology and passion for people it would shape Martin for the next stages of his life.         

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[1] Clayborne Carson, “The Crozer Seminary Years,”Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, Summer 1997, 123.

[2] Ibid., 123.

[3] Ibid., 123.

[4] Ibid., 123.

[5]Ibid., 127.