In a 15 April letter, Burns, a former Dexter parishioner who had moved to Chicago prior to King's arrival, asked King if it was safe for black people to travel in the South: “Reading so many items in the Press, concerning the Racial conditions there, and not knowing which to believe, I am taking this privilege to ask your candid opinion as to my coming there to visit. . . . please let me know by return mail, if you think that My friend (lady) and may be another couple, with us, will meet up with any trouble, or discomfort, by the hands of any one or ones.” 1
Mr. Alexander L. Burns
11306 So. Bishop St.
Chicago 43, Illinois
Dear Mr. Burns:
This is to acknowledge receipt of your very kind letter of recent date. I am very happy to know of your intended trip for the south in general and Montgomery in particular. It is always good to have visitors come in to our city. Let me assure you that conditions are not so bad in the south and in Montgomery that you would face difficulty in coming here on a visit. I am sure that you will receive most of the basic courtesies even from white persons on the road as you travel. There may be occasional hostilities, but on the whole Negro passengers driving on the highway are treated with a great deal of courtesy. So I would advise you to definitely come to the south if you feel inclined. And I am certain that you will face only a minimum of difficulties if any at all. The south of today is quite different from the south of twenty-five years ago. You will find many conditions that have actually changed. It would be a real experience for you and your friends, so I would urge you to come.
Very sincerely yours,
M. L. King, Jr.,
(Dictated by Rev. King, but transcribed and signed in his absence.)
1.Alexander L. Burns (1889-1973), born near Mount Meigs, Alabama, received his high school diploma (1912) from Alabama State Normal School (later Alabama State University).
MLKP-MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Boston University, Boston, Mass.