After his trip to Ghana, King received letters from a number of African students who appreciated his linking of the struggle against segregation in the American South with African anti-colonial movements.1 Akuamoa, a Ghanaian studying at Philander Smith College in Arkansas, writes King an admiring letter. 2King replied on 6 August. 3
Rev. Martin Luther King
Dear Rev. King:
You may be surprised to know from whom this comes. The writer is a student from Ghana, now studying in the United States. I have been in this country since October of last year. I hope this introduction will suffice, short as it is.
I am writing to congratulate you on your brave stand, taken during the Montgomery incident. Articles concerning this appeared in some of our local magazines. Perhaps this may be considered late, but I think there is no better time to thank you. My interest in you was centered in the sacrifice you made in the Montgomery crisis, but
to more than, that the interest you have in the whole dark race. Your presence in Ghana, to celebrate her independence, bears testimony of your profound interest—not only in the Negroes of America, but Negroes in every part of the earth.
You may scarcely know how your contribution for the abolition of this age long racial superiority has been an inspiration to some of us. I pray we may have that germ of self-sacrifice for the welfare of our fellow men, and may we keep this ideal as the hallmark of human growth. I hold as my ideal the statement Thomas Paine expressed: “The whole world is my country, and to do good is my religion.”4 The country of America is taking the leadership of the world in matters both spiritual and material and as such, she needs to be aware of racial values. To every aspirant to discipleship service in the world, this cancer that is eating the fabric of universal brotherhood is a grave concern, not only to American citizens but to those of all the earth.
I wish you Godspeed and guidance in all your undertakings to end the inhuman practices. Certainly most of us cannot do more than this; have the assurance, the thoughts of all defenders of the right human course are always with you. May the invisible helpers who guide our human destiny guard all your footsteps. May victory be achieved to the glorification of our Master Jesus to whose cause you have dedicated your life.
It may not be possible, perhaps, to answer this letter, but if you will only be so kind as to drop me even a card, I shall be very grateful.
I remain sir, yours truly,
C. O. Akuamoa
1. Among these were a 9 April letter from Nigerian Elijah O. Odokara, then studying at McPherson College in Kansas. Odokara, who later published several books on education in developing countries, praised King’s recent trip to “Ghanaland.” Several African students also requested King’s assistance in gaining entrance to a school in the United States. One such letter came from James Dennis Akumu, propaganda secretary for Tom Mboya’s People’s Convention Party, who wrote King from Nairobi, Kenya, on 14 August 1957: “It is very difficult getting Education under the ‘British colonial’ power especially when they know that after getting such an Education, you will question their right to dominate others.”
2. Charles Opuni Akuamoa (1931—), born in Seniaja, Ashanti Region, Gold Coast, attended Philander Smith College for three years and received a B.S. (1959). A member of Alpha Phi Alpha, King’s fraternity at Morehouse, Akuamoa served as chapter vice president his senior year.
3. See p. 243 in this volume.
4. Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man, Part the Second (London, 1792).
MLKP-MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Boston University, Boston, Mass.