A recent article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, written by a former student of Ira deA. Reid’s (and a classmate of Martin Luther King’s), includes an anecdote about how Haverford’s first tenured African American professor brought the future civil rights leader to campus in 1948.

You probably know Ira DeA. Reid (1901-1968, pictured above in the 1958 Haverford yearbook) as the namesake for the building that now houses the campus’ Black Cultural Center. You might also know him as as the illustrious sociology scholar who was Haverford’s first tenured African American professor. But you may not know that, before joining our faculty in 1948, he was also Martin Luther King Jr.’s professor while the future civil rights leader was an undergraduate at the historically black Morehouse College. Or that one of Reid’s first acts on campus was to bring his former student, who had just graduated with a sociology major from Morehouse, to Haverford to train him to conduct research.
A recent article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, written by another of Reid’s students (and a classmate of Reverend King’s) June Dobbs Butts, touches on that trip as part of a discussion about the recent controversy surrounding the inscription (“I was a Drum Major for Justice”) on the statue of the civil rights leader. As a footnote to the larger story about the author’s father, John Wesley Dobbs, giving an anecdote about a drummer boy in the Civil War to the young King, Dobbs discusses the circumstances that brought her to Haverford for two-weeks with the man she called M.L.
“M.L. and I entered college early and shared sociology classes with a zest for life and a nobility of purpose. In June 1948, I graduated from Spelman College, turning 20 the next week. M.L. graduated from Morehouse College a day or so later, but wouldn’t turn 20 for six more months. We had been told by our esteemed sociology professor, Dr. Ira DeA. Reid, that he had accepted a position at Haverford College in Pennsylvania. M.L. and I had bemoaned the “brain drain” of black professors being wooed from historically black colleges to white universities that offered better pay. Our favorite professor softened the blow by asking M.L. and me to work for him that summer before we, too, would be leaving for “somewhere up North.” Dr. Reid brought M.L. and me to Haverford for a two-week training session devoted to interviewing skills. We were trained with 25 other young people, mostly seminarians, from around the country. We were assigned to a project interviewing black Baptist ministers in our hometowns.”
To read the whole article, follow this link.