To Gardner C. Taylor
Author: King, Martin Luther, Jr.
Date: September 2, 1958
Location: Montgomery, Ala.?
Topic: Brown v. Board of Education
Martin Luther King, Jr. - Political and Social Views
King seeks Taylor’s support for the Youth March for Integrated Schools, a demonstration in Washington, D.C., which King describes as an “appeal to the nation for the peaceful and forthright integration of public schools.’’1 In a 6 September telegram Taylor, who had hosted King for a 1956 MIA benefit, pledged his continuing support: “No public position [is] as important to me as our struggle. I am with you.”
Dr. Gardner Taylor, Minister
Concord Baptist Church
833 Marcy Avenue
Brooklyn 16, New York
Dear Dr. Taylor:
I am very sorry that business in connection with the publication of my book on Montgomery, made it impossible for me to see you during my visit to New York last week.
I am therefore taking this opportunity to discuss an important matter with you and to seek your support:
In discussing the question of Little Rock with A. Philip Randolph recently, the question arose of the need for a project that would combine a moral appeal, reveal the support of liberal white people and Negroes together, and generally to give people in the North an opportunity to show their solidarity with Negro children in the South who have become the first line of defense in the struggle for integrated schools.
From this sharing of ideas a concrete proposal emerged. It is that I should send out from the South a Call for Negro and White people in the North to demonstrate to the nation their conviction that integrated schools are in keeping with our Christian ethics and are necessary to the health of our people and the status of our nation.2
Then, Mr. Randolph, Mr. Jackie Robinson, and six other distinguished leaders would respond to the appeal by calling for a Youth March for Integrated Schools.3 A small responsible committee working with Mr. Randolph would organize the procession for October 11th.4 Approximately 1,500 students of all ages from New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington would parade down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, pass the White House and proceed to an auditorium where at a mass meeting these youth, Negro and White, would appeal to the nation for the peaceful and forthright integration of public schools.
The initiating group is already at work and has asked me to serve as Honorary Chairman of this well conceived (and I feel) very necessary moral demonstration of hope and faith. I am, of course, eager to do what I can, but when I make such a call I am anxious that the list of chairmen for this venture include substantial and trusted churchmen, since I am sure the committee will need their weight if it is to be a success.
I am, therefore, writing you to urge that you lend your aid to this project. I am asking the Rev. George Lawrence, or Mr. McLauren of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, or Mr. Bayard Rustin, whom Mr. Randolph has selected as assistant coordinator, to reach you early next week for your answer, since time is of such importance.5 Should you be unclear on the aims or the strategy, or should you have any questions, I hope you will call me after having talked with one of these men.
Let me conclude by saying that I feel a deep conviction that such a project will do much to give courage, support, and encouragement to our beleagued children and adults in the south. Simultaneously it will have a profound moral effect upon the nation and world opinion.
I deeply and sincerely hope you will be able to join us in this effort. With warmest personal regards.
Very sincerely yours,
Martin L. King, Jr.
1. King sent an identical request for support to O. Clay Maxwell on the same date; see also “Address at Youth March for Integrated Schools in Washington, D.C., Delivered by Coretta Scott King,” 25 October 1958, pp. 514-515 in this volume.
2. In a draft of this statement, King called upon “Negro and white men of goodwill in the North to counteract the deleterious action and propaganda of those who would hold fast to the old order. . . . It should be declared firmly and forthrightly that the integration of schools is right and just and that our nation cannot have peace, freedom from tension, nor democratize its institution until this unfinished task of democracy is achieved” (“An Appeal to Negro and White Men of Goodwill,” September 1958).
3. “A Call for the Youth March for Integrated Schools,” 25 October 1958.
4. The march was later postponed until 25 October.
5. George Lawrence was the executive chairman of In Friendship. Benjamin F. McLaurin, a close aide of A. Philip Randolph, was an international field representative for the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.
Source: MLKP-MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Boston University, Boston, Mass.