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From H. Edward Whitaker

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Author: Whitaker, H. (Horace) Edward

Date: October 31, 1952

Location: Niagara Falls, N.Y.

Genre: Letter

Topic: Martin Luther King, Jr. - Education

Martin Luther King, Jr. - Family


Whitaker, King’s classmate at Crozer, writes about founding the first black church in Niagara Falls, New York.1 He refers to Walter “Mac” McCall and Samuel Proctor, both graduates of Crozer.2 Whitaker and his wife, Vivit, met King’s parents at a meeting of the National Baptist Convention.

Dear Mike,

How does it feel to be in school this year? Pleasant I am sure. It was my intention to have scribble a note before now, but this changing from the Center here has just about knocked me out. Things are beginning to settle down now, and the response is so favorable to our ministry, I am not altogether certain as to what we are going to do to make it possible for our people to attend service. We simply don’t have the room. Of course we don’t have much to begin with. But we are going to be forced to build before we are altogether ready. We have already started our planning. If things continue favorably we will begin building in the spring.

I had a letter from Proctor a few days ago and he was telling me of your success. I am glad to hear it, although I would not expect to hear anything else

I saw your mother and father at the Convention. They look real well. Vivit was with me at the Convention. Your mother said you had taken all of her pots and pans and cut-out for Boston. I can imagine that it is some apartment you are keeping. You can’t wash dishes or can you? I certainly would not like to stop by for a meal because I would probably take with acute indigestion and die—Well so much for the joke. I think that is fine. I hope everything goes well for you. Don’t bring in any extra help—

By the way you told me two years ago you would be married by the next summer. Apparently you are still meeting these girls who are one-time wreckers. Watch the Doctor don’t let one catch with your shoes off.

I was in Boston in August, visiting with my wife’s sister. It is my hope to get back there again before you leave. We met this fellow who died a few weeks ago and had such large funeral. In fact we had dinner together. I was surprise to hear of his death. I think both he and his wife were students at the University (Boston). How long do you expect to be in Boston now? Will this year wind up your residence work? Remember I must have a copy of your Doctors dissertation.

Take it easy Mike and let me hear from you sometime. Vivit and Edward are well and things are going along normally. I wrote Mac today—

[signed] H. Edw Whitaker

1. Horace Edward Whitaker (1918–) received his B.A. from Virginia Union University in 1948 after being employed as an insurance agent in Virginia and serving in the army during World War II. After receiving his B.D. from Crozer Theological Seminary in 1951 he served as pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Niagara Falls, New York. In 1962 he returned to Virginia as pastor of Zion Baptist Church in Portsmouth, where he remained until 1968. He was later pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Brooklyn and an area representative and minister for the American Baptist Churches. In 1971 Whitaker received his D.Min. from Andover-Newton Theological School. See Whitaker to King Papers Project, 13 April 1992.

2. McCall and King graduated from both Morehouse College and Crozer together, in 1948 and 1951, respectively. King met Samuel Dewitt Proctor (1921–) when Proctor visited Crozer to give a lecture. Proctor received his A.B. at Virginia Union University in 1942 and his B.D. at Crozer in 1945. In 1950 Proctor received his Th.D. from Boston University. After serving as pastor of Pond Street Baptist Church in Providence, Rhode Island, from 1945 to 1949 he became professor of religion and ethics at Virginia Union. He was promoted to vice-president in 1953 and president in 1955. In 1960 he became president of North Carolina A & T State University, where he remained until 1964. He then worked in the federal government and at several universities until, in 1972, he was called to the pastorate of Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church after the death of its pastor, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. He has written several books, including The Young Negro in America (1966), Sermons from the Black Pulpit (1984), Preaching About Crises in the Community (1988), My Moral Odyssey (1989), and How Shall They Hear? (1992). See Proctor to King Papers Project, 18 November 1991.

Source: MLKP-MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers, 1954-1968, Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University, Boston, Mass.

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