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Lawrence Carter

Chapel Dean and religion professor Lawrence Carter was born in Georgia to John and Bernice Carter and grew up in Ohio. He received his B.A. degree from Virginia University of Lynchburg and his M. Div., S.T.M., and Ph.D. degrees from Boston University. After his graduation he served as Baptist Counselor, Residential Counselor, and Executive Director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Afro American Cultural Center, and as Associate Dean of Daniel L. Marsh Chapel at Boston University. He went on to teach at Harvard University Divinity School and serve as coordinator of African American studies at Simmons College.

Carter eventually became a tenured professor at Morehouse College, a college that Martin Luther King Jr. had tried to recruit him for years earlier. In 1979, Carter became the first Dean of the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel and college curator. In the same year, Carter also founded the Martin Luther King Jr. Chapel Assistants Pre-seminarians Program at Morehouse. In 1982, he began lecturing at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta.

Carter was responsible for choosing and researching the site for the new edifice for Ebenezer Baptist Church, a church that both Martin Luther King Jr. and his father preached at. Carter has published several books, including Walking Integrity: Benjamin Elijah Mays, Mentor to Martin Luther King Jr. and Global Ethical Options, in the Tradition of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Daisaku Ikeda . He also commissioned the Gandhi Ikeda King Hassan Institute for Ethics and Reconciliation in 1999, and created the Gandhi-King-Ikeda Community Builder’s Prize of the Morehouse Chapel in 2001. Carter is an advocate of the work of Doctor Daisaku Ikeda, president of the lay Buddhist organization Soka Gakki International, and has done much to publicize Ikeda’s work in the U.S., including helping to create a traveling museum exhibit on the life and work of Gandhi, King, and Ikeda.

Carter has received four honorary degrees from Lincoln University, Al al-Bayt University, and Soka University of Japan. He has been elected delegate to numerous international religious conventions, among them the Second and Third Synthesis Dialogues in Italy. He has also been given many awards, such as the Seikyo Award for Highest Honor and the Trumpet Award for Spirituality. Carter has been a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow twice, a Fulbright-Hayes Scholar, and has been voted a member of the Class of Leadership Atlanta.
Lawrence Carter was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 15, 2010.

Accession Number

A2010.080

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/15/2010 |and| 4/18/2011

Last Name

Carter

Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Edward

Schools

West High School

Virginia University of Lynchburg

Boston University

First Name

Lawrence

Birth City, State, Country

Dawson

HM ID

CAR23

Favorite Season

Christmas

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

I Can Do All Things Through Christ that Strengthens Me.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

9/23/1941

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Trout, Salmon, Eel, Crabcakes, Green Vegetables

Short Description

Religion professor and chapel dean Lawrence Carter (1941 - ) was a professor and chapel dean at Morehouse College, and worked to promote and preserve the legacy of civil rights leaders around the world.

Employment

Morehouse College

Boston University

Simmons College

Bates College

Favorite Color

Scarlet, Yellow

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Lawrence Carter's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Lawrence Carter lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Lawrence Carter describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Lawrence Carter remembers his maternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Lawrence Carter describes his relationship with his maternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Lawrence Carter remembers the attack on Pearl Harbor

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Lawrence Carter describes the foods of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Lawrence Carter remembers his early religious experiences

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Lawrence Carter describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Lawrence Carter describes his father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Lawrence Carter remembers pivotal moments from his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Lawrence Carter describes his maternal grandmother's home in Dawson, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Lawrence Carter remembers his maternal grandmother's death

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Lawrence Carter recalls his convalescence in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Lawrence Carter remembers his first train trip to Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Lawrence Carter remembers his early education in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Lawrence Carter remembers his fifth grade teacher

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Lawrence Carter talks about his academic achievements at Garfield Elementary School in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Lawrence Carter describes the Hilltop neighborhood in Columbus, Ohio, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Lawrence Carter describes the Hilltop neighborhood in Columbus, Ohio, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Lawrence Carter describes his mother's occupations

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Lawrence Carter remembers the day of his mother's funeral

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Lawrence Carter describes his mother's personality

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Lawrence Carter describes his experiences at West Junior and Senior High School in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Lawrence Carter describes his role as bailiff in the student court at West Junior and Senior High School in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Lawrence Carter recalls his decision to attend Virginia Theological Seminary and College in Lynchburg, Virginia

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Lawrence Carter remembers meeting Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Lawrence Carter describes his call to ministry

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Lawrence Carter talks about his baptism and the pastor of his church

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Lawrence Carter recalls his first encounter with racial discrimination

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Lawrence Carter remembers a minstrel show from his youth

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Lawrence Carter recalls attending Virginia Theological Seminary and College in Lynchburg, Virginia

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Lawrence Carter remembers a valuable lesson about his education

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Lawrence Carter recalls his early jobs as a teenager

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Lawrence Carter remembers working as a camp counselor at Camp Wheeler in Chesterville, Ohio

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Lawrence Carter recalls applying to the Boston University School of Theology in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Lawrence Carter explains the difference between licensure and ordination

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Lawrence Carter remembers facing racial discrimination in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Lawrence Carter remembers the events of the Cold War

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Lawrence Carter describes his membership in the Un-American Activities club

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Lawrence Carter reflects upon his experiences during the 1960s

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Lawrence Carter describes his participation in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Lawrence Carter remembers the March on Washington

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Lawrence Carter describes his graduation from Virginia Seminary and College

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Lawrence Carter describes his vacation on Huckleberry Island in Canada

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Lawrence Carter remembers a close friend

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Lawrence Carter recalls his childhood adventures in a junkyard

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Lawrence Carter describes his dating experiences at the Boston University School of Theology

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Lawrence Carter recalls meeting his wife

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Lawrence Carter narrates his photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Lawrence Carter narrates his photographs, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Slating of Lawrence Carter's interview, session 2

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Lawrence Carter describes the early years of his marriage

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Lawrence Carter recalls his start as a university instructor

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Lawrence Carter talks about his organizational memberships in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Lawrence Carter remembers joining the Masons

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Lawrence Carter describes the connections between Masonry and Christianity

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Lawrence Carter talks about his appointment as dean of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Chapel

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Lawrence Carter describes his plan for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Chapel

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Lawrence Carter remembers his relationship with the King family

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Lawrence Carter describes the Martin Luther King, Jr. Chapel Assistants Pre-seminarians Program

Tape: 8 Story: 11 - Lawrence Carter remembers the Atlanta Missing and Murdered Children cases

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Lawrence Carter remembers Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Lawrence Carter recalls the activities at Morehouse College in the late 1980s

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Lawrence Carter describes the Leadership Atlanta program

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Lawrence Carter talks about his involvement in the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Lawrence Carter talks about Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.'s expulsion from the National Baptist Convention, USA

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Lawrence Carter describes his son

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Lawrence Carter talks about his research for his books

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Lawrence Carter remembers his ethics research in the Fulbright-Hays Program

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Lawrence Carter describes the culture and geography of Brazil

Tape: 9 Story: 10 - Lawrence Carter remembers revitalizing the campus of Morehouse College

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Lawrence Carter remembers reinterring Benjamin Mays at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Lawrence Carter recalls finding the new location for Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Lawrence Carter recalls editing the centennial collection of Benjamin Mays' writings

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Lawrence Carter talks about founding the Gandhi, King, Ikeda Institute for Global Ethics and Reconciliation, pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Lawrence Carter talks about founding the Gandhi, King, Ikeda Institute for Global Ethics and Reconciliation, pt. 2

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Lawrence Carter describes his peace work after September 11, 2001

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Lawrence Carter remembers hosting Cheikh Anta Diop at Morehouse College

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Lawrence Carter describes the subject of his Ph.D. dissertation

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Lawrence Carter recalls his inaugural address at the Soka University of America

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Lawrence Carter recalls planning the first Interfaith Resurrection Assembly

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Lawrence Carter talks about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Lawrence Carter describes his various honors

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Lawrence Carter talks about his wife

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Lawrence Carter shares his plans for the future

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Lawrence Carter reflects upon his legacy and how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 11 Story: 8 - Lawrence Carter shares a message to future generations

Tape: 11 Story: 9 - Lawrence Carter shares his thoughts about contemporary churches, pt. 1

Tape: 11 Story: 10 - Lawrence Carter shares his thoughts about contemporary churches, pt. 2

Tape: 11 Story: 11 - Lawrence Carter shares his gratitude in joining The HistoryMakers collection

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$4

DAStory

3$4

DATitle
Lawrence Carter remembers meeting Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Lawrence Carter describes his call to ministry
Transcript
And so the school was living on its heyday decades past. But I stayed, and in 1961, Martin King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] came to Lynchburg, Virginia to speak, and I didn't know he was coming, and this was gonna be my second time going to hear him. Maybe I should put in, before I tell you this, that in the tenth grade the superintendent of school was at our church, Oakley Baptist [Oakley Full Gospel Baptist Church, Columbus, Ohio], on a Sunday morning with no warning, took me across town to hear him speak at Union Grove Baptist Church [Columbus, Ohio]. It's the first time I heard him--tenth grader. And I was impressed, and couldn't figure out why I had been brought, but I was considering the ministry--didn't know for sure, and I had figured out a habit that was a good practice, that when I visited churches, I should go and ask the minister could I look at his study--library. And I asked Dr. Hale [ph.], a Morehouse man [Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia], if I could see his study after church, and he said, "Of course, go right in, there's nobody there." I went in and closed the door and started looking at the books, from the floor to the ceiling, and when I turned around to view the books on the other side of the room, Martin Luther King, Jr. himself was seated in a chair, alone. I was astounded, and the first thing I thought was the pastor lied to me (laughter); he said nobody was here. King said, "What's your name?" I told him. He said, "Have you considered college?" I said, "Yes." He said, "Have you considered Morehouse?" I said, "Yes." And I said, "But one of my neighbors talked me out of it." He said, "Why?" "He said it wasn't up to snuff." He then started a very persuasive conversation on why I should consider Morehouse. Long story short, the neighbor won, and the church people said to me, "Basically, we think that you'd be better off at Virginia [Virginia Theological Seminary and College; Virginia University of Lynchburg, Lynchburg, Virginia] because we think that Morehouse would be too hard for you."$$Wow.$$That's how I got to Virginia to college.$Before we go forward, I just wanna go back a little bit and, and pick up some pieces. I wanna know about when--I mean you told about the tenth grade you were considering ministry, but when was the first time you felt that you had the call?$$Oh. My calling was not a Pauline call, of being knocked off some proverbial horse and blinded by a bright light, it didn't happen abruptly; it was a gradual thing from the ninth grade to the twelfth, and it got stronger and stronger by elimination. And it wasn't until January of the twelfth grade; I was so anguishing that if God wanted me to preach, why didn't he just tell me? And of course I could hear Bill Cosby's voice, "You know, he doesn't operate like that" (laughter). Well, one day I was seated in the sanctuary [at Oakley Full Gospel Baptist Church, Columbus, Ohio] trying to decide, and my pastor came down the aisle. Nobody else was in the sanctuary but me. And as he passed, I said, "Reverend Ashburn [Jacob Ashburn, Jr.], I think I've been called to preach." He kept right on going (laughter); didn't say anything. I was shocked; I thought this would cause for some kind of conversation. So I watched him go on back to the narthex, and then I decided to sit there until he came back, and he walked right by me and I said, "But I'm nervous about having to preach all these Sundays." And he said, while passing by me, "I thought you said you were called to preach," (laughter), and he walked right on into his office, and I thought, what's going on? I was dealing with my ambivalence. So I followed him into his office and so we talked a moment. And he said, "Well, if you think you've been called," he says, "I'll set a date for you to preach your trial sermon." And that was January. He set the date of May 11th; that gave me time to finish and to graduate [from West Junior and Senior High School; West High School, Columbus, Ohio], though the graduation wasn't 'til June. I'll never forget--the church was full; it was like a Wednesday night. My mother [Bernice Childs Johnson] had told everybody. People from out of town came. I was as nervous as you can imagine. I had only preached one other sermon a few Sundays before at a United Methodist church, and I don't know what happened, but the sermon was received thunderously, and the word spread throughout the community, "[HistoryMaker] Lawrence Carter has been called to preach, and you should of heard him last Sunday." But I had not preached at my church. And when I finished that sermon, I didn't have another sermon (laughter), so I had to write another sermon. So I did, and I remember using--I can't even tell you the title of the sermon right now, but I used like these little devotionals, these little handbooks--one of the popular ones; it's not coming to me right now, that everybody knows.$$Daily Word?$$Daily Word--to help me get ready. And I went in with my little manuscript, and I sat there, really sweating, looking out at all these people, wondering, what do they want to hear? And I got up and I delivered it. And I sat down, and the church licensed me. But I remember I was very disappointed at one of my favorite deacons, Mr. Joseph Gentry [ph.]; he did not make the motion and he did not second it, but he voted in my favor. I wanted him to make the motion just because I had so much--he was the one who took me to hear Martin Luther King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther, King, Jr.]; I had so much respect for him. So that is how I started, and I've been struggling ever since (laughter).