In the summer of 1944, when he was 15 years old, Martin Luther King came north to New England with a group of Morehouse students to work for the Cullman Brothers tobacco fields in Simsbury and returned there again in 1947 between his junior and senior years at Morehouse.
They came because World War II service had most of the adult male workforce and the state had been using Southern seasonal agricultural work for decades even before the war. In King’s case, the work in the fields paid for his tuition at Morehouse as well as his board and train fair. (If they stayed until the harvest was complete.)
King and the other students, about 100 in total, lived in the Morehouse boarding house or in a larger camp down the road. They were woken at 6AM and worked in the fields Monday to Friday from 7AM to 5 PM. Dinner was served in a communal dining room. Lights were out at 10 PM.
On weekends there were trips into Hartford of which Dr. King wrote to his parents;
“Yesterday we didn’s work so we went to Hardford we really had a nice time there. I never thought that a person of my race could eat anywhere but we ...ate in one of the finest resturant in Hardford. And we went to the largest shows there. It is really a large city”
On his return to work in the summer of 47, King had a minor run-in with the police over a prank. It was also the summer when he decided to follow in the footsteps of his father, grandfather and great-grandfather and take up preaching. In 1948, after graduating from Morehouse King enrolled in the Crozier Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania. He eventually received a doctorate from Boston University in 1955.