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Martin Luther King Forwards an Encouraging Letter to Rosa Parks (SOLD)
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“Get this letter to Mrs Parks”

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. Autograph Note written on retained copy of a Typed Letter by Maude L. Ballou. March 6, 1957, [Montgomery, Ala.], 1 p., 8 ½ x 11 in.

Inventory #23299       SOLD — please inquire about other items

Historical Background

At the time of this letter, Rosa Parks was the secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP. She had already gained fame when, on December 1, 1955, she was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a municipal bus to a group of white passengers. On December 17, 1956, the Supreme Court upheld the decision of a U.S. District Court that Alabama’s racial segregation laws on public transit were unconstitutional. Three days later, the Court ordered Alabama to desegregate its busses.

Just over a month later, on January 25, 1957, Myrtle Moore, membership secretary for the Palo Alto-Stanford Branch of the NAACP, wrote to Martin Luther King informing him that her “branch of NAACP ‘adopted’ the Montgomery branch for the year 1957, paying in to the New York headquarters $1,050.00 as dues for your branch.” She added that the youth members in California “have now become very much interested in knowing more about what is going on down there in the Southland, and they wish very much to become ‘pen pals’ with the YOUTH of your erstwhile branch.” Having a racially diverse group of youngsters, including “some white members, altho [sic] not as many as we would like to have,” she asks if the young people in Alabama would correspond with those in California.

Two months after that, on March 6, 1957, Maude L. Ballou, friend and personal secretary to King, sent a typed letter apologizing for the delayed response, explaining that “Through some error your encouraging and inspiring letter was misplace in the great flood of mail here in the office” and that “Rev. King left on February 26, for an extended tour of Africa and Europe . . . I would, however, like to express the gratitude of Rev. King and the people of Montgomery for the very kind gesture in our behalf.” Once he returned and saw the letter, Dr. King wrote a short note in blue ink at the top directing Mrs. Ballou to send the encouraging letter on to Mrs. Parks.


Fine. Lightly toned with small spots of foxing and smoothed folds.