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From G. McLeod Bryan

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Author: Bryan, G. McLeod

Date: October 10, 1959

Location: Umuahia, Nigeria

Genre: Letter

Topic: Martin Luther King, Jr. - Travels


After meeting with Albert Lutuli in South Africa, Bryan, a professor at Wake Forest College, reports on the African National Congress (ANC) president's great esteem for Stride Toward Freedom: “He wished for copies to put into the hands of his African National Congress leaders.”1 King wrote Lutuli on 8 December.2

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Montgomery, Ala.

Dear Martin Luther,

Just getting out of South Africa after three months in that tense atmosphere, I am fulfilling a promise I made to Chief Luthuli within the past fifteen days. He as you know is under ban, for the third time in 10 years. But without knowledge of your and my friendship, he told me that the greatest inspiration to him was your Stride Toward Freedom (that Bishop Reeves had put into his hands).3 Luthuli had been reading it in his cane fields the very day I visited him. He wished for copies to put into the hands of his African National Congress leaders. I told him I would put the request to you, believing that you would contribute this much and more to South African freedom. His eyes were the brightest when I referred to him as the “King” of S.A. His odds are so much greater, but he is a Profound Christian sharing your views. If only the world knew with whom it dealt!

I am at the moment lecturing in East Nigeria, for two months, completing my eight months tour of all-Africa. I hope you are getting my lengthy newsletters to close friends—

Send to:
Chief Luthuli
Groutville, Natal
South Africa

Your friend,
[signed] G. McLeod Bryan
Trinity College
E. Nigeria

1. Bryan had written King in late 1958 for advice before leaving to teach in South Africa and to tour the continent. King and Bryan first met during Religious Emphasis Week at Georgia’s Fort Valley State College in October 1955 (Bryan to King, 20 November 1958). In April 1959, Bryan had requested that King provide him a letter of introduction, acknowledging that while the Africans would not know King personally, “they of course link your name with American friendship for the rising peoples of the earth” (Bryan to King, 21 April 1959, and King, Letter of introduction for G. McLeod Bryan, 30 April 1959). In a 4 May 1959 letter, King had encouraged Bryan to meet with Kwame Nkrumah and K. A. Gbedemah of Ghana and Tom Mboya of Kenya. George McLeod Bryan (1920-), born in Garner, North Carolina, received a B.A. (1941) and M.A. (1944) from Wake Forest College and a B.D. (1947) and Ph.D. (195I) from Yale University. He served as pastor of Olivet Baptist Church in New Haven, Connecticut, from 1945 to 1948. Bryan became a professor of Christian social ethics at Wake Forest College in 1956 and later worked for Volunteers for Africa.

2. See pp. 344-345 in this volume.

3. Bryan refers to Ambrose Reeves, Anglican bishop of Johannesburg, whom King had met on 25 July 1957 at a church event in New York City (“Dr. King Meets Bishop,” New York Times, 28 July 1957).

Source: MLKP-MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Boston University, Boston, Mass.

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