Billy Joe Nabors, an Alabama State College student, planned to enroll in the University of Alabama. Nabors received guidance from Alabama Council on Human Relations staff member Robert Hughes and FOR activist Glenn Smiley. On 15 August Smiley asked King to alert his contacts in Tuscaloosa. Worried what Nabor's response might be to a possible violent greeting, Smiley advised King to “spend some time” with Nabors—‘An hour or more might be the decisive factor in his remaining nonviolent in the [face] of possible threats.” After learning that the NAACP had decided not to support his case, Nabors registered at Howard Law School instead.1
Rev. Glenn E. Smiley, Field Secretary
The Fellowship of Reconciliation
21 Audubon Avenue
New York 32, New York
This is just a note to acknowledge receipt of your letter of August 15.
I was very happy to know of the approaching registration of Billy Joe Nabors in the University of Alabama. I was not aware of the fact that a Negro had been accepted in the University for the Fall Term. You can be assured that I will do everything possible to help in the present situation. I do not have any direct contact with the Leaders of the Negro Community in Tuscaloosa. However, I am sure that I can make such contact almost immediately.
The idea that you suggested concerning the possibility of Billy Joe Nabors coming to Montgomery to talk with me is a very good one. I will be more than happy to do this. If you could contact Mr. Nabors and see if he is interested in such an arrangement I would in turn contact him for such a meeting.
The idea of making the Sunday prior to Mr. Nabors registration in the University of Alabama a Day of Prayer is an excellent one. I will alert every church in the Community as well as the churches over the State to the need of making that Sunday a Day of Prayer for Billy Joe and the University of Alabama. Please feel free to contact me concerning any details that develop.
You have my prayers and best wishes for a great meeting in Chicago. Those of us who stand amid the bleak and desolate midnight of man’s inhumanity to man are given new hope in the emerging day-break of Freedom and Justice through the noble work of such Organizations as F.O.R.
Martin L. King, Jr.
1. See Robert Hughes to Glenn Smiley, 1 October 1956.
FORR-PSC-P, Fellowship of Reconciliation Records, 1943-1973 , Swarthmore College Peace Collection, Swarthmore, Pa., Box 16.