The pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church in Seattle urges King to run for president of the National Baptist Convention, citing the need for dynamic new leadership.1 Lloyd’s request reveals discontent with the leadership of J. H. Jackson among those Baptist ministers who wanted the group to promote civil rights. At the convention’s September meetings a faction of delegates, including some of King, Sr.’s, closest friends, sought to limit Jackson’s tenure as president, but the issue was tabled until the following year. On 7 January 1957 King Jr., declined Lloyd ’s offer to organize support for a presidential campaign at the next convention meeting in Kansas City.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,
Dexter Avenue Baptist Church
309 South Jackson Street
My Dear Dr. King:
This letter comes to ask your permission to form a committee to sponsor your name for the presidency of the National Baptist Convention, USA., Inc. As we stand at the threshold of momentous decision on Christian integration, while taking the long-range view of the future of our Negro Baptist ranks, we MUST HAVE A NEW LEADERSHIP which embodies religious zeal with scholarship, group loyalty with clear thinking, and administration with integrity. Across the nation, your embodiment of these virtues is a fiat accompli. Under your leadership, our national body could develop a much-needed program of dynamic evangelism, education, missions, social action and finance. As I see it, without such a development at this particular insightful point of Negro-and-Baptist history in this country, our Baptist churches will miss their greatest opportunity since Reconstruction to enrich and broaden and stabilize their future.
With your permission I should like to organize a committee of approximately 25 to 50 across the country, to actively work for your nomination and election at Kansas City. There are no strings attached; you would have to approve our publicity and statements; and should a disruptive contest be foreseen, withdrawal would be a mutual agreement. This would be a voluntary movement on the committee’s part. However, I should like your permission to launch the program during my Christmas mailing across the nation: because I have longed for a Baptist messiah like you since 1932!!
Respectfully, your Brother
[signed]Gil Burton Lloyd
1. Gil Burton Lloyd (1916-), born in Nashville, Tennessee, earned his B.A. (1939) from Fisk University and his M.Ed. (1969) from Seattle University. Ordained in 1939, he served as an army chaplain and community worker in Chicago. He became pastor of Seattle’s Mount Zion Baptist Church in 1954, staying there until 1957. From 1959 to 1986 he served as pastor of Cherry Hill Baptist Church in Seattle.
MLKP, MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University, Boston, Mass.