Steele, president of Tallahassee's Inter-Civic Council and leader of that city's five-month bus boycott, expresses regret that King was unable to speak in Tallahassee on 21 October as previously scheduled. King gave the Sunday sermon at Dexter that morning after a week-long speaking tour, but due to an unidentified “emergency” he was unable to attend the mass meeting in Tallahassee that evening. The day before, Steele and twenty other Inter-Civic Council activists had been fined for operating an unlicensed car pool. “We’re going to keep walking,” Steele announced; “the boycott of the buses will keep going on.” 1
Rev. M. L. King Jr.
520 Union Street
Dear Mr. King:
We still have you on our agenda and are looking forward to your coming to Tallahassee in the near future.
There were over 1000 people to turn out Sunday to see and hear you. This shows how anxious the people here are to hear you speak.
We regret very much of the emergency you recognized on your arrival. We sincerely hope you have been successful in clearing them up by this time. We realize it is needless to mention, you have our solicitation and our support for every instant.
When you learn which day you will arrive here, wire us.
Rev. C. K Steele, President of the Inter-Civic Council
1. “Outlaw Car Pool, Boycott Still On,” New York Amsterdam News, 27 October 1956. Charles Kenzie Steele (1914-1980), born and raised in Gary, West Virginia, received his B.A. from Morehouse College in 1938. He served churches in Montgomery and Augusta, Georgia, before being called to Tallahassee’s Bethel Baptist Church. He was head of the local NAACP when, in May 1956, he was elected president of the Inter-Civic Council, an organization formed to provide leadership for the city’s bus boycott. In 1956 Steele and King participated in several nonviolence workshops, including panels at the National Baptist Convention’s annual meeting, Tuskegee Institute, and the MIA’s Institute on Nonviolence and Social Change. In early 1957 Steele was elected SCLC’s first vice president at its founding meeting.
MLKP-MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Boston University, Boston, Mass.