Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was many things: a father, a husband, a reverend, an activist. However most importantly, he was a Terrier. That’s right, the very same Dr. King (GRS ‘55, Hon. ‘59) that wore his ideals on his sleeve also wore BU’s iconic scarlet red. So today in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, The Bunion, in collaboration with BU Libraries, presents 3 obscure letters MLK wrote about Boston University when he studied here in our shared alma mater.
The Boston University Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center holds a great amount of Dr. King’s personal papers and correspondence, many of which relate to his time at Boston University and the city of Boston as whole. For instance, in one letter addressed to his wife Coretta Scott, Dr. King, a native Georgian, ponders over the idiosyncrasies of Bostonians:
Coretta, Boston treats me well. However the people of Boston intrigue me… Somehow they all have the same drink in hand. An “iced coffee.” It appears to be a normal coffee with added ice in a see-through cup. I assume this cup is to let other Bostonians know they are both indulging themselves on the same beverage. What strikes me as most interesting is that I’ve never seen a single man or woman finish this drink. They always have their cup midway through as if they have started drinking from it, but don’t really intend on finishing it. Boston truly is different from Atlanta.
Dr. King’s letters also record specific moments about his academic life. For example, here is a small fragment of a letter Dr. King wrote regarding a class he did not expect to take, WR150:
This “portfolio” they are having me make is frankly somewhat of a pain. Why must I reflect on papers I wrote merely 3 weeks ago? If I had ideas on ways to improve my paper I would have written it differently the first time. They also have me search for “artifacts” in my essays like some I’m some sort of archeologist. I hear they might be trying to implement some kind of “digital” way to create these portfolios on your personal computer. I lament I will be already graduated by the time this system is in place because truly this will make the whole portfolio process easier.
Dr. King also wrote detailed accounts of his favorite and not so favorite places on campus. Below is an excerpt of a letter he wrote on his least favorite place to be at BU: Marsh Plaza.
The empty barren place between the School of Theology and the College of Arts and Sciences is perhaps the most unfortunate area of all of BU. It’s too open, but yet enclosed. It’s never used for anything productive, and I’ve most certainly slipped in the rain puddles far too many times. It is an eyesore to the beautiful theology building next to it where I spend most of my days. My condolences to whatever the university attempts to make in the plaza, as it will be undeserving of such appalling placement.
If these letters don’t show Dr. King was a Terrier just like us, then we don’t know what does. The Bunion wishes our readers a Happy MLK Day and encourages everyone to read, watch, and learn about his profound impact on society.