Boston U. Panel Finds Plagiarism by Dr. King

From: Ronny Koch ([email protected])

Published: October 11, 1991
A committee of scholars appointed by Boston University concluded
today that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. plagiarized passages
in his dissertation for a doctoral degree at the university 36
years ago.

"There is no question," the committee said in a report to the
university's provost, "but that Dr. King plagiarized in the
dissertation by appropriating material from sources not
explicitly credited in notes, or mistakenly credited, or
credited generally and at some distance in the text from a close
paraphrase or verbatim quotation."

Despite its finding, the committee said that "no thought should
be given to the revocation of Dr. King's doctoral degree," an
action that the panel said would serve no purpose.

But the committee did recommend that a letter stating its
finding be placed with the official copy of Dr. King's
dissertation in the university's library.

The four-member committee was appointed by the university a year
ago to determine whether plagiarism charges against Dr. King
that had recently surfaced were in fact true. Today the
university's provost, Jon Westling, accepted the committee's
recommendations and said its members had "conducted the
investigation with scholarly thoroughness, scrupulous attention
to detail and a determination not to be influenced by non-
scholarly consideration."

The dissertation at issue is "A Comparison of the Conceptions of
God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman."
Dr. King wrote it in 1955 as part of his requirements for a
doctor of philosophy degree, which he subsequently received from
the university's Division of Religious and Theological Studies.

One member of the investigating committee, John Cartwright, the
university's Martin Luther King Professor of Social Ethics, said
the panel had refrained from speculating about the reasons why
Dr. King had not properly attributed material, which came from a
variety of other interpreters of the works of Tillich and Wieman.;

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