Historian Vernon Burton ’69 inducted into MLK Collegium of Scholars
Orville Vernon Burton ’69, the Judge Matthew J. Perry Distinguished Professor of History at Clemson University, has been inducted into the Martin Luther King, Jr. Collegium of Scholars at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia.
The induction ceremony was held Oct. 13 during the annual conference of Morehouse’s College of Ministers and Laity. The Martin Luther King Jr. Collegium of Scholars consists of academics “committed to research, writing, teaching and mentoring in a wide variety of disciplines and contexts that promote and give support to the work of peace through moral cosmopolitan social responsibility.”
In addition to history, Vernon is also a professor of pan-African studies, sociology and computer science at Clemson. He has served as president of the Southern Historical Association and the Agricultural History Society, and has written several prize-winning essays and books of history, including “The Age of Lincoln.” Much of his work has chronicled the struggle for civil rights and racial justice in the South. His 2021 book, “Justice Deferred: Race and the Supreme Court,” was co-authored with Charleston civil rights attorney and Constitutional scholar Armand Derfner.
“I am very humbled to receive this award of membership,” said Burton. “The Collegium stands for a commitment to social justice and excellence, as exemplified by Dr. King.”
Vernon’s connections to Morehouse go back to his Furman years and a meeting during a religious emphasis week with civil rights leader Benjamin Mays, who was Morehouse’s president from 1940 to 1967. Mays – who mentored Martin Luther King Jr. as a Morehouse student – and Vernon hailed from the same hometown: Ninety-Six, South Carolina.
“That friendship and my relationship with Dr. Mays have been a major treasure in my academic and spiritual life,” said Burton. “I am proud of the continuing academic excellence at Morehouse and honored by my association with that institution.”