Lawrence thanks King for his sermon at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, citing the enthusiastic response of the congregation to King's "monumental sermon.”
The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., D.D.,
President, The Montgomery Improvement Association
530-C South Union Street
Montgomery 8, Alabama
Dear Brother King,
I have been away from the city for a few days, attending the annual session of the New England Baptist Missionary Convention at Philadelphia. My desk is stacked high with unanswered correspondence, but I feel so ashamed that I simply must drop you this note to “atone” in some way for not having officially thanked you for the monumental sermon you delivered at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine on May 17.
There are no words to express the most glorious sunrise. It would be folly for me to attempt to say what is on my heart with reference to “The Death of Evil on the Seashore.” Dean Pike said it was the greatest sermon he has heard in his entire life. An old soldier of 82 years sent me a note in the mail. He said: “I ain’t never heard nobody like that boy!” Who can add testimony to such expert observations? Officials at the Cathedral said they received more than 200 messages, all favorable. I have in my files at least 75 letters from folk who were inspired and moved. So you see, the service of divine worship at the Cathedral was one of the greatest experiences of our lives, too!
I trust that by this time you have received the check for the Montgomery movement.1 We could have raised more that night if the accent had been on commercialism. However, the “big payoff” comes to us all in terms of hearts, minds, souls and spirits which were touched, inspired and renewed May 17 as a direct result of the God-given message you brought.
I can only say that you must keep us up-to-date on the movement and on what you need to carry on. You can rest assured that we will do everything in our power to help you and the great cause for which you are pouring out life’s blood.
I am sure that you have seen the reports of the service in the newspapers. If not, I plan to send you the clippings anyway, in addition to some pictures taken that evening if I can locate the photographers.
Tom [Kilgore] is fine, and still battling! He received an honorary D.D. from Shaw the other day (after turning it down three times), and then made another of his quiet and famous On-the-spot Investigations of the North Carolina and South Carolina (especially!) situations. He is off today for Los Angeles and the Congress. I will not be going.
I, too, enjoyed the brief but impressive fellowship we had personally during your trip here. Please count me as a close personal friend, and feel free to call on me at any hour to do anything I possibly can to aid you or your great cause. By all means, keep in touch with us constantly. If there are needs, we will try to find the answers.
Remember, above all, there are thousands praying constantly to Almighty God for you and what you are doing. I am proud to stand up and be counted among that number. I hope we can get together in the near future, but I have the feeling that we are as close as brothers in the great Fellowship, and I want you to feel that way too.
Let us hear from you soon. With warm personal regards, I am
Minister of Education
1. Someone in King’s office wrote “yes” in the margin next to this sentence.
MLKP-MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Boston University, Boston, Mass.