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From George D. Kelsey

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Author: Kelsey, George D.

Date: April 4, 1958

Location: Madison, N.J.

Genre: Letter

Topic: Martin Luther King, Jr. - Political and Social Views


Kelsey comments on King's manuscript. King took his former professor's suggestion to stress Christianity as the motivating force behind the Montgomery protest, adopting a phrase Kelsey wrote on the draft he returned with this letter: "Christ furnished the spirit and motivation, while Gandhi furnished the method."1

Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. 
309 South Jackson Street 
Montgomery, Alabama

Dear M. L.,

The chapter which you sent me is a part of what will prove to be a very valuable and influential book. Let me thank you for it even now.

I have made a few observations on the margins. They are undoubtedly along the lines of your concern. The main thrust of my suggestions is directed toward the sharpening of the fact that the movement which you so nobly led was Christian in motivation and substance. Christian love remained on the “ground floor.” Ghandi furnished the techniques, including the “operational principles”, which you spell out at the end of the chapter.

In the movement, I reserve such words as “substance” and “philosophy” for Christian Faith, because I am convinced that the Spirit and world view of Christian Faith informed it. This position is not inconsistent with the adoption of Ghandian “operational principles” as well as techniques.

Your description of your own inner struggles as well as the inner life of the movement is excellent. Such a section conveys to the world that there is no pharisaical claim being made, and that the movement was built on truly human material. As a result of such a portrayal, your achievements loom the larger.

I hope this small reaction is helpful.

The Kelseys and the Kings must yet get together for a relaxed movement. Perhaps, there will soon be a chance when you and the madam can spend a night here rather than in a New York hotel. This is a commuter town, you know.

With best wishes and kindest personal regards, I am

Most sincerely yours,
[signed] George
George D. Kelsey


1Stride Toward Freedom, p. 85.

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

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