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To Female Inmates

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Author: King, Martin Luther, Jr.

Date: October 19, 1960 to October 23, 1960?

Location: Atlanta, Ga.?

Genre: Letter

Topic: Martin Luther King, Jr. - Arrests



This handwritten letter, composed on lined paper from the same notebook in which King drafted his arraignment statement, may have been intended for the female protesters arrested during the Atlanta sit-ins.1

Hello girls,

Words can never adequately express appreciation. Real appreciation must flow from the deep seas of the heart.2 But in my stumbling words I would like to thank you for your intrepid courage, your quiet dignity, and your undaunted faith in the power of non-violence. Never before have I been more proud to be a Negro. Never before have I had more faith in the future. It is inspiring enought to see the fellows awillingly accepting jail rather than bail, but when young ladies are willing to accept this type of self suffering for the cause of freedom it is both majestic and sublime.

1. Jacqueline Kay Anderson, Blondeen Arbert, Ann Ashmore, Diane Attaway, Charlotte Cherry, Mattie Cox, Gwendolyn Iles, Carolyn Long, Wylma Long, Johnnie Price, Marilynn Pryce, Minnie Riley, Patricia Simon, Patricia Ann Smith, Christine Sparks, Herschelle Sullivan, Lana Taylor, Yvonne Tucker, Laurine Weaver, and Bettye Williamson were reportedly arrested at Rich's department store and bound over to criminal court on the first day of demonstrations (Bruce Galphin and Keeler McCartney, “King, 51 Others Arrested Here in New Sit-In Push: Further Protests Foreseen,” Atlanta Constitution, 20 October 1960). In a 22 October letter to the male prisoners, Carolyn Long wrote: “Tell M. L. that his dear cousins are fine.” She also reported that King, Sr. had visited her in jail and is “going to bring me some cigarettes” (see also Ashmore to All my friends in the pokey, 22 October 1960, and Cox et al. to Brothers, 23 October 1960). All the student protesters were released on or before 23 October.

2. King began this letter one page earlier in the notebook but stopped in the middle of the second sentence (King, Draft, To female inmates, 19 October–23 October 1960).

Source: CSKC, INP, Coretta Scott King Collection, In Private Hands.

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