Shuttlesworth responds to King's 22 July invitation to the upcoming Southern Leaders Conference meeting in Montgomery on 8 August, and asserts: “It is my conviction that it is our duty and right to move courageously against Segregation: to attack it rather than waiting to defend ourselves.” At the 17 May Prayer Pilgrimage in Washington, D. C., Shuttlesworth had encouraged the crowd to remain steadfast in the struggle for justice: “I have been bombed but I’m not dead, and neither am I angry. We are simply determined to carry on this fight until victory is won.” 1
Reverend M. L. King, Jr.
Montgomery Improvement Association
530 South Union Street
Dear Rev. King:
I am in receipt of both of your letters concerning the meeting of the Southern Leaders Conference to be held in your city August 8.2 It is with much anticipation that I await this meeting. I’m sure it will be a time of much serious business as well as mutual relationships. You may count on me for my unstinting support.
Upon receipt of your second correspondence this morning, I am immediately writing you, that you may expect me not later than noon August 7, as per your request. I shall be prepared to remain through the eighth.
Further than this I do hope that we can (you and I) have some serious talk as to means of keeping the initiative in this struggle. It appears that the Southern counter-offensive has all but stymied our progressive attacks upon Fortress Segregation. I would certainly hope that we would never be found fighting as our enemies expect; that is, as they plan for us to fight. And I fervently pray that most of all, we shall never be found fearing to begin. It is my conviction that it is our duty and right to move courageously against Segregation: to attack it rather than waiting to defend ourselves; it is the problem of others to defend it if they can.3
Believing ours to be as just and Holy as any cause ever fought for, I am ready to give my all in this struggle.
F. L. Shuttlesworth
1. Lerner, “Time for Freedom,” 17 May 1957.
2. Shuttlesworth also received a 26 July invitation to the 7 August meeting of the executive committee.
3. On 6 March 1957, Shuttlesworth and his wife, Ruby, challenged Birmingham’s segregation statutes by sitting in the “whites only” section of the Birmingham train station. They were soon joined by white steelworker and minister Lamar Weaver, who was attacked by a mob after he was forced to leave the terminal for not holding a valid ticket. Police officers, however, did keep the mob away from the Shuttlesworths inside the train station (“Birmingham Incident Told Senate Unit,” Montgomery Advertiser, 9 March 1957). For more on Shuttlesworth’s activities in Birmingham, see King to James W. Morgan, 15 July 1958, pp. 450-453 in this volume.
MLKP-MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Boston University, Boston, Mass.