Martin Luther King Was a Thief!

-By Don Boys, Ph.D.

One of the easiest charges to prove against King is that he stole much of his material from the time he was 15 years old! King preached his first sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church but it was taken from Harry Emerson Fosdick’s “Life is What You Make it.” You will note that he chose the leading liberal (Modernist) preacher of the day from whom to steal.

King stole from others all his lifetime. The scholars of the King Papers Project confessed: “King’s plagiarism was a general pattern evident in nearly all of his academic writings….We found that instances of textual appropriation can be seen in his earliest extant writings as well as his dissertation. The pattern is also noticeable in his speeches and sermons throughout his career.” Note that the confession is from King’s own people!

A King-friendly author, David J. Garrow states: “King’s academic compositions, especially at Boston University, were almost without exception little more than summary descriptions… and comparisons of other’s writings. Nonetheless, the papers almost always received desirable letter grades, strongly suggesting that King’s professors did not expect more….”

The editors of The Martin Luther King Jr. Papers state, “The failure of King’s teachers to notice his pattern of textual appropriation is somewhat remarkable….” Note the spin: King’s stealing the work of others is “textual appropriation” rather than plagiarism, thievery, purloining, etc. But it does sound better doesn’t it. That publication was an official publication of the Martin Luther King Center for Nonviolent Social Change, Inc. that included Coretta King!

While King was a student at Crozer, he wrote an essay titled, “The Place of Reason and Experience in Finding God” and he found his material for the essay in the book The Finding of God. He gave no credit for the pirated passages. Another paper “written” by King soon after entering Boston University was “Contemporary Continental Theology” and was largely taken, stolen, purloined, etc., from a book by that title by Walter Marshall Horton.

According to left wing academic, David J. Garrow, Coretta Scott King (who acted as King’s secretary) was involved in King’s pirating pages of previously published material. Therefore, it seems the thieves came in a set! Martin and Coretta! Please note that the author of the article is very sympathetic to the Kings!

The discovery that King often took freely from other writers came out of his Ph.D. dissertation at Boston University. His dissertation was “A Comparison of the Conceptions of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman,” and over half of it was stolen! King found a similar dissertation by Dr. Jack Stewart Boozer (real name) a former army chaplain and later Professor of Religion at Emory University who had returned to Boston University to earn his Ph.D. King even copied mistakes from Boozer’s work “The Place of Reason in Paul Tillich’s Concept of God”! However, don’t rely on me. Read what a Boston University investigatory committee concluded in 1991:

“A committee of scholars at Boston University concluded yesterday that Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. plagiarized portions of his doctoral dissertation, completed there in the 1950s….
BU provost Jon Westling accepted the panel’s recommendation that a letter be attached to King’s dissertation in the university library, noting that numerous passages lacked appropriate quotations and citations of sources.”

However, they did not recommend that his degree be revoked! Wonder what would have happened if King’s name had been Bill Smith? It is normal at most universities that a plagiarist such as King would at least be temporally suspended with a notation on his permanent record and he would fail the subject.

The report further said that there were “numerous instances of plagiarism” in King’s graduate work. We now know that 66 percent of his dissertation was stolen, purloined, taken, etc. He took page after page of material from other writers and claimed it as his own! They also said that the university did not give him special treatment because Blacks and Whites had been failed from the program. Then why did King get a pass? I also wonder what happened to his committee and his faculty advisor. The same professor who was supposed to read and pass on Boozer’s dissertation was King’s advisor. Maybe those professors really don’t read all those dissertations!

Even the King Papers Project (a group of scholars appointed by Coretta Scott King to edit King’s papers for publication) had to admit that King was a thief, well not in those words, but they did say, “Our discovery of extensive plagiaries in King’s academic papers affected every aspect of our work….” The Project stated, “King’s plagiarism was a general pattern evident in nearly all of his academic writings.”

These discoveries became known in 1988 but were sat on until the media forced them out. The London Telegraph on December 3, 1989, published a story dealing with King’s plagiaries so the kitty was out of the sack! On November 9, 1990, the Wall Street Journal broke the story, (softly and carefully) and in January of 1991 Theodore Pappas blew the lid off in Chronicles of which he was managing editor. The New York Times, the New Republic, the Atlanta Journal/Constitution, the Washington Post and others had the story, but refused to publish! Wonder why?

During the eight years I wrote columns for USA Today, I asked the editor if I could do a column on King’s plagiarism, however, I never got permission. I had read the story in the London papers during a stopover from one of my trips from the Middle East. The editor of USA Today did not believe either I had the facts or more probably did not want to take the heat for breaking the story in the U.S.

The original response of Boston University officials is very interesting and revealing. President Jon Westling sent a letter to Chronicles (published in the January 1991 issue) denying that King was a thief. Westling said King’s dissertation had been “scrupulously examined and reexamined by scholars,” and that “not a single instance of plagiarism of any sort has been identified. . . . in any of its 343 pages.” Westling was attempting damage control realizing that BU could become PU if they gave King special treatment or if they were simply incompetent in recognizing his thievery. Even after everyone knew Westling was “truth deficient,” Boston University refused to revoke, recall, or repudiate King’s “doctorate.”

Gerry Harbison was a professor of chemistry at the University of Nebraska and admitted, “King’s thesis was anything but original. In fact, the sheer extent of his plagiarism is breath taking. Page after page contains nothing but direct, verbatim transcriptions of the work of others.”

The King Papers Project also admitted that King didn’t stop stealing the material of others after he shook the university president’s hand and grabbed his Ph.D. in his left hand. King’s book, Striding Towards Freedom had whole sections taken from Agape and Eros and Basic Christian Ethics!

It is now known that King plagiarized portions of his Nobel Prize lecture, his “I have a Dream” speech, and his Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” The close of his famous “I have a Dream” speech was plagiarized from black preacher Archibald Carey who delivered it at the 1952 Republican National Convention! Carey and King had corresponded. Moreover, King’s books were written by others but he got the credit and the cash.

So how did the radical leftists and King worshippers explain King’s propensity to steal the work of others? Well, they dallied, denied, and distorted the facts. Various King defenders, with a straight face, suggested that King was only doing what Blacks do. That is a slander of all black scholars. Others called his thievery by such labels as borrowings, voice merging, resonances, intertextualizations, and ghost- writing. Ghostwriters are common (although I can’t understand why a man would put his name on a book that he did not write) but are paid for their original work.

Associate Professor of English at Arizona State University Keith D. Miller opined in his 1998 book, Voice of Deliverance, that King’s plagiarism was “blending,” “alchemizing,” and “voice merging.” I wonder if Miller would give his students a pass like that, and if so, what does that say for scholarship at that university?

Of course, honest people know King’s defenders were coming to the defense of a castle in ruins. Alternatively, to change my metaphor, Humpty Dumpy had fallen off his wall and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men could not put “Humpty” back together again.

We are told that it is not fair to attack King (how about “expose” King?) since he is dead and can’t defend himself. Well, isn’t it strange that liberals can attack Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, Joseph McCarthy, and other leaders back to George Washington and Thomas Jefferson even though they can’t defend themselves? Most liberals are the most untruthful, unfair, unreasonable people in the world.
Dr. Don Boys is a former member of the Indiana House of Representatives, author of 13 books, frequent guest on television and radio talk shows, and wrote columns for USA Today for 8 years His most recent book is ISLAM: America’s Trojan Horse! His websites are and

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