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To Francis E. Stewart

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Author: King, Martin Luther, Jr.

Date: July 26, 1954

Location: Roxbury, Mass. 

Genre: Letter

Topic: Martin Luther King, Jr. - Education


Writing to a fellow graduate of Crozer, King reports on the restructuring of the Crozer faculty initiated by Sankey Blanton.1 Blanton became president of Crozer in 1951 during King’s third and final year. He attempted, with some success, to alter the school’s image as a bastion of liberal theology and was thus able to attract funds that kept the school alive. Some words are obscured by stains on the letter.

Dear Francis,

It was certainly a happy experience to hear your voice the other day after such a long time. I had a very fine trip back to Boston, and fortunately I stopped in Chester and got some idea of what is taking place at Crozer. I found all of the things that you [had?] told me quite authentic. It is definitely true than Enslin, Prichard and Batten are leaving. Prichard is going to some school in California. Enslin was retired, and Batten has gone over into the Episcopal Church.

I have not been able to get the exact causal factor that lead to [this?] great turnover in faculty, but [I?] think at bottom it grew out of conflict with Blanton. I think he was desirous of getting rid of these men from the very beginning. Now the whole faculty will consist of men that he hired directly. What the outcome will be I dont know [word illegible]. I do hope that it wont be disastrous. I understand that a man from Eastern will replace Enslin.2

As for me, I am doing fine, and working hard to complete this dissertation. Brother it really requires a lot of work.

As I said to you the other night [I have?] been called to a Church in Montgomery Alabama. My wife and I will be moving in around the first of September. It is a very fine church with even greater possibilities. I hope that we will be able to do a good job there. When you get settled and get the program [ready?], I will want to have you over to preach for us.

Please give my best regards to your lovely wife and to the kids. I am looking forward to seeing them in the near future. I hope for your continual success in your pastorship. When you have time be sure to [send?] me a line.

Sincerely yours
[signed] Martin King

1. Francis E. Stewart (1923–) received his A.B. from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, in 1949 and his B.D. from Crozer in 1952. As a Crozer student he served as associate pastor of the First Baptist Church in Chester. From 1952 to 1964 Stewart was the pastor of a rural county-seat church, Monticello Baptist, in Monticello, Georgia, where he encountered opposition for preaching about racial injustice. He later served as chaplain of a hospital and administrator of community service centers before working for the State of Georgia as an administrator. From 1972 until his retirement in 1988 Stewart was senior policy analyst in the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget. See Stewart to King Papers Project, April 1990.

2. Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Philadelphia was Crozer’s more conservative rival among northern white Baptist seminaries.

Source: Francis E. Stewart Papers, In Private Hands

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