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To E. T. Sandberg

King, Martin Luther, Jr. (Montgomery Improvement Association)
May 31, 1956
Montgomery Bus Boycott


Sandberg, a professor at Wartburg College, had asked King about Gandhi’s influence in a 23 March letter.1 Sandberg suggested that since “your movement and its defense in the present situation seems to depend very largely upon proving that no mob violence was at the root of the so-called bus boycott, I believe that a published statement that the idea of passive resistance was central would do your cause great good.”

Dr. E. T. Sandberg
Wartburg College
Waverly, Iowa

Dear Mr. Sandberg:

First let me apologize for being so tardy in my response to your very kind letter of March 23. Absence from the city on several occasions plus the accumulation of a flood of mail account for the delay. Please know that this was not due to sheer negligence, but to the pressure in the involved situation.

Yes, the Ghandian influence has been at the center of our movement. Many of us have been impressed over the years with the method of passive resistance used so effectively in India by Ghandi. So in our struggle against the evils of segregation in the South we feel that this weapon of passive resistance might be just as effective. We are using passive resistance as the method and love as the regulating ideal.

We certainly appreciate your interest in our movement. Your suggestions are certainly helpful. Please feel free to write us any time.

With every good wish, I am

Sincerely yours,
M. L. King, Jr.,


1. Edwin T. Sandberg received his B.S. (1943) from the University of Minnesota, M.A. (1945) from the School of Education at University of Minnesota, and Ph.D. (1951) from the University of Indiana. After teaching at Buena Vista College in Storm Lake, Iowa, he became an English professor at Wartburg College in 1953.


MLKP-MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University, Boston, Mass.