At A. Philip Randolph's request, the War Resisters League granted Rustin, the organization's executive secretary, a one-year leave of absence to organize protests at the upcoming Democratic and Republican national conventions and to serve as King's special assistant.1 In a 2 March letter, WRL chairman Edward Gottlieb explained to King that the decision was made with the understanding that "nonviolent action" would be central to Rustin's assignment: "We know that Bayard has a unique contribution to make in this field."2 In the following letter King assures Gottlieb that Rustin's assistance "will be of inestimable value" to the civil rights struggle.
Mr. Edward Gottlieb, Chairman
War Resisters League
Five Beekman Street
New York 38, New York
Dear Mr. Gottlieb:
This is to acknowledge receipt of your letter of March 2, concerning the decision which your executive committee recently made in relation to the request of Mr. Randolph and myself to secure the services of Bayard Rustin. I have read your letter with scrutinizing care, and [word illegible] in full agreement with all of the decisions reached. We are deeply grateful to you for giving Bayard this leave of absence to work in the integration movement. We are thoroughly committed to the method of nonviolence in our struggle and we are convinced that Bayard's expertness and commitment in this area will be of inestimable value in our future efforts.
Business appointments and other concerns are constantly bringing me to New York. So I will be more than happy to find some time during some of these visits to discuss with your committee Bayard's work and any questions that you may have to raise.
Again, let me thank you for your cooperation and support, and I am sure that the gains that will come from Bayard's work in this field will in some way compensate for the real loss that you are facing at this time.
Very sincerely yours,
Martin L. King, Jr.
1. Gottlieb to Randolph, 2 March 1960.
2. Gottlieb also indicated that he was pleased that Randolph and King would occasionally meet with WRL officials "to discuss Bayard's work and any questions we may have about it, so that our Executive Committee may be in a position to make its own evaluation of the contribution Bayard is making to the cause of nonviolence." Edward P. Gottlieb (1905-), born in New York City, earned a B.S. (1925) from the City College of New York. He was a public school teacher (1925-1943) and principal (1952-1967) in the New York City public schools and served as chairman of the WRL (1960-1968). Gottlieb helped mobilize students to attend the 1958 and 1959 Youth Marches for Integrated Schools.
MLKP-MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Boston University, Boston, Mass.