After meeting King at Highlander Folk School's September 1957 anniversary celebration, Braden, a Southern Conference Educational Fund (SCEF) field organizer, wrote Maude Ballou: “Tell him I especially value the help he gave me in understanding some of the theological distortions I have been hearing from the pastor of my own church—a man who believes human beings are so evil they must not attempt to correct evil and injustice in the world but must leave it all to God.” 1 With this letter Braden, who also edited SCEF's journal Southern Patriot, enclosed copies of the October issue containing a review that praised Stride Toward Freedom as “a gripping story of the historic Montgomery bus protest, told by one of its leaders with drama, historical perspective, philosophical and religious insight—and with humility.” Replying for King on 3 December, Ballou informed Braden that King had found her book, The Wall Between, “one of the most moving documents that he has ever read.” 2
Dr. Martin Luther King
309 Jackson St.
Dear Dr. King:
Enclosed are two copies of the October issue of The Southern Patriot which carries a notice of your book.
The book is a tremendous document of the spirit, and I regret deeply that space limitations in the Patriot do not permit full length reviews. However, the book has been so widely publicized that it scarcely needs our help. I do hope though that perhaps this brief notice will encourage some white Southerners, who might not have otherwise done so, to buy the book. They, perhaps more than anyone else, need to read it.
Let me take this opportunity to tell you too that you have been much in our prayers, as in those of thousands of others, during these recent weeks. May God soon restore your health so that you can carry on your great work.
1. Braden to Ballou, 23 September 1957. Anne Gamrell McCarty Braden (1924-), born in Louisville, Kentucky, graduated from Randolph-Macon Women’s College in 1943. In 1947 she went to work at the Louisville Times where she met Carl Braden, a journalist and union organizer. They married in 1948, and the couple became public relations directors for the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) and worked for the Progressive Party. In 1954 the Bradens purchased a house in a white Louisville neighborhood and, in an effort to promote integration, sold it to a black family. After the home was bombed, Kentucky officials arrested the Bradens for plotting to incite an insurrection; Anne Braden wrote The Wall Between (1958) about the experience. Unable to secure jobs at southern newspapers, in 1957 the Bradens became field organizers for SCEF, an organization committed to ending segregation through direct action, advocacy, and education.
2. Braden had sent King proofs of the book on 1 May 1958, and asked for comments that the publisher might quote. On 10 December Braden asked Ballou for permission to quote King’s reaction; Ballou relayed King’s approval on 15 December.
MLKP, MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University, Boston, Mass.