On 8 March SCLC board member Moore requested that King write several letters in support of a 9 April Summit Conference on Registration and Voting in Durham, North Carolina, at which King was to appear.1 In response, King wires this statement of encouragement to the organizers. At the conference King told the audience of twelve hundred people that external resistance and internal apathy stood in the way of African Americans gaining the ballot in the South: “Integration is not a silver dish handed out by the white man while the Negro furnishes the appetite.”2
rev douglas moore
first baptist church
c/o rev. david hedgley3
winston salem north carolina
would like to express personal appreciation to each of you for all that you are doing to make first class citizenship a reality through gaining the ballot stop i have come to see that one of the most decisive steps that the negro can take at this hour is that short walk to the voting booth stop with the support and determination of the christian ministry we cannot fail stop we have a glorious challenge at this hour to lead our people to a new day of freedom
martin luther king, jr.
1. Moore asked King to write to the president of the North Carolina Baptist state convention, who had not been supportive of the voting drive because of “close ties with the political officials in Raleigh.” He also requested that King wire his thanks to four bishops for their support of the campaign, arrange a loan of $100 from SCLC or the MIA to “get us rolling,” and that King “not let us down as far as the April 9 mass meeting.”
2. The summit conference was sponsored by the Church Leaders’ Conference on Registration and Voting of North Carolina, the NAACP, and SCLC (“Resistance, Apathy Major Negro Problems, Says King,” Montgomery Advertiser, 10 April 1958; In Friendship, Newsletter, April 1958). Also on 9 April, King preached “What Is Man?” and lectured on “The Peril of Conformity” at Shaw University in Raleigh (Shaw University, Program for eighteenth annual public worship service, 9 April 1958).
3. Alabama native David Rice Hedgley, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina from 1944 to 1972, was also a board member of the Urban League, the NAACP, and a member of the organizing committee of the 9 April Summit Conference.
MLKP-MBU. Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University, Boston, Mass.