King thanks Henry for his hospitality during the SCLC meeting in Clarksdale.1 On 24 June, Henry offered King a “standing invitation” to return and thanked him for having done “much to improve the thinking and the expressed feelings of the people in our area.” Henry had written King on 28 August 1957, requesting that the “new organization pertaining only to the voting rights of all Americans” hold a meeting “in the state where it is perhaps needed most, in Mississippi.”2
Dr. Aaron E. Henry
Fourth Street Drug Store
220 4th Street
Dear Dr. Henry:
Thank you so much for making our trip to Clarkesdale one that we will long remember. I can say, without reservation, that this was the finest meeting that the Southern Christian Leadership Conference has ever had. I hope you are as proud as we are pleased.
I want to thank you too for the gracious hospitality extended to me, personally. The whole trip, with its rich fellowship, has sent me back to Montgomery with renewed strength and enthusiasm to tackle afresh the stupendous job that we all know must be done.
My prayers are with you, your charming wife and most adorable daughter.3 Please give them my warm regards
Martin Luther King, Jr.
1. Aaron Edd Henry (1922-1997) was born in Dublin, Mississippi. He received a pharmacology degree (1950) from Xavier University and established a pharmacy in Clarksdale. In 1952 he helped organize the Clarksdale branch of the NAACP and in 1960 he became president of the Mississippi State Conference of the NAACP. He was arrested in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1961 for supporting the Freedom Riders. Henry served as president of the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) from 1962 until 1965, running for governor of Mississippi in 1963. He headed the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party delegation to the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City in August of 1964, and later that year Henry received SCLC’s Rosa Parks Award. Henry became a member of the NAACP board of directors in 1965 and later served as a member of the Mississippi State Legislature.
2. In a 5 April 1958 letter to Ella Baker, Henry reiterated: “We are still desirous of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference holding its next quarterly meeting in Clarksdale.”
3.King refers to Henry’s wife Noelle Michael and their daughter Rebecca.
MLKP-MBU. Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University, Boston, Mass.