In a 16 July letter to King, NAACP public relations director Henry Lee Moon, lauded King's Spingarn Medal acceptance speech as “deserving of the high praise which it evoked from the overflow audience.” Moon suggested that King write a letter of appreciation to Amy Spingarn, the widow of the award's donor.1King replied on 6 August that he would “get the letter off immediately.” Spingam responded to the following letter on 21 August.
Mrs. Amy Spingarn
29 East 64th Street
New York, New York
Dear Mrs. Spingarn:
I would like to express my appreciation to you and the members of the Board of Directors of the NAACP for choosing me as the reciepient of the Spingarn Medal for the year of 1957. This is an honor that I will cherish so long as the cords of memory shall lengthen. I have already placed the medal among my most sacred possessions. I can assure you that I will forever seek to live up to the noble and sublime principles inherent in such an award.
Let me express my appreciation to you for the great part that you and your late husband have played in the struggle for freedom and human dignity for all people. The names of the Spingarns will go down in history as symbols of the struggle for freedom and justice. Those of us who stand amid the bleak and desolate midnight of man’s inhumanity to man are given new hope for the emerging daybreak of freedom and justice when we know that such persons exist in this nation. Again may I thank you for your generosity and understanding goodwill. The experience of receiving the Spingarn Medal—made possible by the devotion and goodwill of your late husband—will certainly stand as one of the high moments in my life.
Very sincerely yours,
M. L. King, Jr.,
1. Amy Einstein Spingarn (1883-1980), born in New York City, was a philanthropist, poet, and artist known especially for her paintings of prominent African-American cultural figures. Upon the death of her husband, Joel Spingarn, in 1939, Amy Spingarn was elected to finish out his term on the NAACP Board of Directors. She continued as a board member for nearly forty years.
MLKP-MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Boston University, Boston, Mass.