King belatedly answers a 29 March letter from James, pastor of Central Baptist Church and president of the United Baptist Convention of Delaware. 1 James had written on behalf of the Interdenominational Ministerial Union of Wilmington, Delaware, and Vicinity, which comprised all the black churches in that area, to inquire how they could best aid the MIA. He asked whether the state of Alabama might prevent the MIA from using donations by outside groups and whether boycotters in Montgomery had suffered from economic reprisals and needed special assistance.
The Rev. Arthur R. James, Pastor
Central Baptist Church
1215 Tatnall Street
Dear Rev. James:
After going through the stack of mail, I discovered a letter that you wrote to me on March 29, 1956. Please let me apologize for just answering this letter. We have had to move our office four times within the last three months, and I am sure that your letter was misplaced during this period of moving. Please know that my failing to answer your letter immediately was not due to sheer negligence but to the inevitable pressure of an involved situation. I was very happy to know of the interest taken by the Interdenominational Ministerial Union of Wilmington and vicinity in our struggle for justice. I can assure you that such moral support and Christian generosity give us renewed vigor and courage to carry on.
Funds are still coming in for our cause and so far we have not had any difficulty in using these funds. The state has not tried to block them to this point. Most of our money is deposited in out-of-state banks and it would be difficult to block that money anyway. So far the economic conditions of Montgomery are holding up very well. We do not have evidence of many reprisals on the part of white employers seeking to undo the economic structure of the Negro community. We have had only minor cases of Negroes losing jobs as a result of the boycott. Most of the funds that we use are for the operation of the transportation system and the office. This local operation runs approximately five thousand dollars ($5,000.00) a week. So you can see that this is a very expensive venture.
I hope that this will answer your questions in some way. We will be getting a newsletter out within the next few days, and I am sure that this will clear up additional questions that you might raise. I will be sure to place your name on the mailing list.
Again let me express my appreciation to you and the brethern for your interest and your sincere concern in the cause of justice.
With every good wish, I am
Yours very truly,
M. L. King, Jr.,
1. Arthur R. James (1887- 1972), born in Balcarres, Jamaica, did his undergraduate work at McMaster University in Ontario and received his master’s degree from Crozer Theological Seminary. In 1931 James became pastor of the Shiloh Baptist Church in Wilmington, Delaware, and also headed the Wilmington branch of the NAACP. He helped found Central Baptist Church in 1943, where he served until 1962. James also presided over the United Baptist Convention of Delaware and served as a trustee of the Delaware Baptist Convention. In 1950 James became the first black city magistrate in Delaware’s history.
MLKP-MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Boston University, Boston, Mass.