In a 25 November 1958 letter, Michigan governor G. Mennen Williams thanked King for sending him an inscribed copy of Stride Toward Freedom.1 Six weeks later, Williams solicited King's appraisal of the Alabama Council on Human Relations (ACHR) after receiving a request for support from the organization's executive director.2
Governor G. Mennen Williams
State of Michigan
Dear Governor Williams:
I am in receipt of your letter of January 6, making inquiry of the work of the Alabama Council on Human Relations. I would strongly recommend this organization as one worthy of support. It is an affiliate of the Southern Regional Council and is by far the most effective interracial organization in the South working for better race relations. While it is not an action organization, it is doing a marvelous job in the educational realm. It is the one organization that is keeping the desperately needed channels of communication open to the races.
Rev. Robert E. Hughes, the Executive Director of the Alabama Council, is a very fine person, a dedicated Christian and a native white southerner who is deeply devoted to the principles of freedom and justice for all.3
I hope these brief comments will be of some help to you in making your decision.
Very sincerely yours,
Martin L. King, Jr.
(Dictated, but not personally signed by Dr. King.)
1. King’s inscription praised Williams’s “great humanitarian concern” and “unswerving devotion to the ideals of freedom and justice” (King, Inscription to G. Mennen Williams, November 1958).
2. Williams to King, 6 January 1959. In a 19 March 1959 letter, Williams requested King's advice on a speech he was to give for Africa Freedom Day at Carnegie Hall in New York City. King, however, was out of town and unable to respond (Maude Ballou to Williams, 15 April 1959). Gerhard Mennen Williams (1911-1988), born in Detroit, Michigan, received an A.B. (1933) from Princeton University and a J.D. (1936) from the University of Michigan. During his tenure as governor of Michigan (1949-1961), Williams appointed African Americans to his cabinet and the courts and championed laws against racial discrimination in employment and housing. He later served as assistant secretary for African Affairs in the Kennedy administration and as a Michigan Supreme Court justice.
3. Hughes helped arrange the initial negotiations between the MIA and local white officials during the bus boycott.
GMWC-MiU-H, G. Mennen Williams Collection, University of Michigan, Michigan Historical Collection, Ann Arbor, Mich.