King responds to Smiley's letters of 11, 18, and 20 June. In this correspondence Smiley discussed arrangements for King's participation in an upcoming workshop for southern movement leaders in Tuskegee on 17-18 July. In his 20 June letter, Smiley enclosed a suggestion by Alfred Hassler, editor of Fellowship, urging the MIA to purchase space in the Montgomery Advertiser every week in order to explain “the reasons for its actions in the bus situation.”1 Hassler asserted that such a column would “create a wordless but vital understanding between the two communities.” Smiley affirmed the idea: “Of all the things that you are doing in the MIA, the weakest seems to be at the point of interpretation to the people whom we eventually want to live with in harmony and love. ”In September the MIA appointed a special committee, which included King, to explore ways of influencing white attitudes; shortly thereafter, King initiated discussions with the editor of the Advertiser about a statement, but it never appeared.2
The Rev. Glenn E. Smiley, Field Secretary
The Fellowship of Reconciliation
21 Audubon Avenue
New York 32, New York
On my return to the city, after being away for several weeks, I found your three letters. The contents of all have been noted with care. The first letter, I think, deals with the Workshop to be held at Tuskegee Institute July 17 and 18. I think all of the arrangements are very good so far, and the rates are about as good as we can find. Accommodations are always extraordinarily good at Dorothy Hall. I know that this will be a very fruitful workshop. I will look forward to hearing from you concerning the invitation.
The second letter concerns my coming to Chicago to speak for The Fellowship of Reconciliation. Certainly I can see the predicament that you are in at this point. And I assure you that I regret saying no to you almost more than anybody I know, if for no other reason than the fact that you have been so helpful to me in our personal encounters. However, my doctor is insisting that I slow up and stop living such a rushed schedule. I feel that it will be entirely too much of a rush for me to speak Friday night in Denver and leave Saturday morning for Chicago and speak that afternoon in Chicago and then return to Denver to preach the next morning. I do hope you will understand my situation and the strain under which I am working. I am very sorry that this conflict has arisen. I know no organization that I would enjoy speaking to more than the FOR. I hope you will hold a place for me somewhere on the agenda for the next meeting.
The next letter deals with the suggestion of buying space in the Montgomery Advertiser to interpret our point of view to the white community. I have read Mr. Hassler's suggestion very carefully, and I think this is an excellent idea. It is one of the things that has been neglected throughout our movement. I will take up the matter with a few members of the Executive Board immediately. Also, I will contact the Advertiser to see if it is possible to purchase such space. As soon as this is done, I will let you know the outcome.
I hope everything is going well with you. I will look forward to hearing from you in the very near future. I intended writing more in this letter, but my desk is stacked with a pile of mail that must be answered immediately.
M. L. King, Jr.
1. Alfred Hassler (1910-1991) was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and grew up in New York City. He studied journalism at Columbia University and then worked for American Baptist Publications in Philadelphia. In 1942 he became editor of the FOR journal Fellowship. In 1960 he assumed the position of executive secretary of the United States Fellowship, serving until his retirement in 1974. He was also president of the International Confederation for Disarmament and Peace.
2. See W. J. Powell, Minutes of MIA Special Committee, 25 September 1956; Grover C. Hall to King, IO October 1956; and King to Hall, 29 October 1956.
FORR-PSC-P, Fellowship of Reconciliation Records, 1943-1973 , Swarthmore College Peace Collection, Swarthmore, Pa.