King declines Mays’s invitation of 21 April to speak at Morehouse morning chapel services before the end of the school year in May. King explains that he is “preparing the outline and manuscript for a forthcoming book” and hence cannot accept any more engagements. King expressed interest in working on such a manuscript for many months before finally undertaking the project that became Stride Toward Freedom, published in 1958.1
Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, Pres.
Dear Dr. Mays:
Thanks for your very kind letter inviting me to speak at Morehouse College.
I am in the process of preparing the outline and manuscript for a forthcoming book. Due to the time that must be put into such a venture, I have promised myself that I would accept no further speaking engagements for the month of May. It is my aim to devote this whole month to the necessary research involved in such an undertaking. I am sure that you understand this because of your long experience as a writer. But for this, I would be very happy to come. Please feel free to call on me some other time.
With every good wish, I am
M. L. King, Jr.,
1. King held discussions with several collaborators and publishers, including Doubleday, before choosing Harper and Row in early 1957 (see Clement Alexandre to King, 1 June 1956; and King to Alexandre, 18 June 1956). In April 1956 he contemplated a collaboration with Edith Gilmore, an associate of Bayard Rustin in New York, to write the Montgomery story for publication, but nothing resulted (see Edith Gilmore to King, 9 April 1956).
MLKP-MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University, Boston, Mass.