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To Albert J. Lutuli

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Author: King, Martin Luther, Jr.

Date: December 8, 1959

Location: Montgomery, Ala.?

Genre: Letter


In a 10 October letter, G. McLeod Bryan conveyed African National Congress president Albert Lutuli’s desire for copies of Stride Toward Freedom to give to other anti-apartheid leaders.1 King responds below, sending a copy of his book and expressing admiration for the South African leader: “I admire your great witness and your dedication to the cause of freedom and human dignity… One day all of Africa will be proud of your achievements.”

Chief Luthuli
Groutville, Natal

Dear Chief Luthuli:

My good friend Dr. McLeod Bryan wrote me the other day and said he had an opportunity to talk with you when he was in South Africa. He spoke of you in very glowing and warm terms. In fact, he said one of the greatest experiences he has had in all of Africa came when he spent those creative moments with you. May I say that I too have admired you tremendously from a distance. I only regret that circumstances and spacial divisions have made it impossible for us to meet. But I admire your great witness and your dedication to the cause of freedom and human dignity. You have stood amid persecution, abuse, and oppression with a dignity and calmness of spirit seldom paralleled in human history. One day all of Africa will be proud of your achievements.

Dr. Bryant mentioned to me that you are interested in having copies of my book, Stride Toward Freedom. I am sending you, under separate cover, one copy of my book, and if you are desirous of having additional copies please feel free to write me and I will be more than happy to send them.2 I will appreciate knowing whether you receive this copy alright.

You have my prayers and best wishes in the days ahead.

Very sincerely yours,
Martin L. King, Jr.


1. See pp. 307-308 in this volume. In 1957 King served as a sponsor of the 10 December 1957 “Day of Protest” decrying the jailing of 156 South African political activists, including Lutuli (see King to Chester Bowles, 8 November 1957, in Papers 4:311-314). Albert John Mvumbi Lutuli (1898?-1967), born in Southern Rhodesia, graduated from South Africa’s Adams College (1921) and taught there until 1935. He was chief of the Umvoti Reserve community near Groutville, South Africa. Lutuli was elected provincial executive secretary for the Natal branch of the African National Congress (ANC) in 1945 and became provincial president in 1951. The following year he assumed the presidency of the ANC, a position he held until his death. In 1960, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his anti-apartheid activism; he was the first African to receive the honor.

2. In March 1960, King asked his graduate school advisor L. Harold DeWolf for advice about delivering the books to ANC leaders and learned that “it would be impossible to get a shipment of books to [Lutuli] directly,” as he had been arrested in a March 1960 state of emergency called by the South African government following the Sharpeville massacre (DeWolf to King and Coretta Scott King, 1 April 1960). Responding to DeWolf on 10 May, King concluded that “the South African situation is truly the most difficult in the world, and we must pray and hope that something will happen to bring the leaders to a reasonable position.”

Source: MLKP, MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Boston University, Boston, Mass.

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