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From Hazel E. Foster

Foster, Hazel E.
April 29, 1956
Cleveland, Ohio


On 3 May, Benjamin E. Mays forwarded to King a letter and a British newspaper clipping from Foster, a former Morehouse professor who had met Gandhi while in India from 1939 to 1941.1 Mays had written in his note to King that “it is heart warming that this movement has taken on such world wide significance.”

Rev. Dr. M. L. King

Dear Dr. King:

The enclosed clipping sent me by a London friend I am thrilled to feel illustrates the universal significance of the noble effort you are heading. I was in India in 1940-41 when Gand Gandhi was carrying on his “Partial Civil Disobedience Campaign” with non-violent, self-suffering resistance to the great injustice the Indian people were suffering.2 It was a matter of free speech, free assembly and free press during the Second World War, and Gandhi’s followers insisted on speaking out with the expectation of imprisonment. I visited him just before the Campaign began. The effort looked so futile and so hopeless to outsiders, but all India ultimately won its freedom on such as basis. Complete good will toward everybody, great sufferings received and accepted, but no sufferings inflicted. Love the motivation! I have wondered whether, now Gandhi has died, whether his ideas and ideals had died with him. You prove to me they have not. And as he was earnestly trying to follow the Sermon on the Mount, so you are folowing his grat example—Jesus.

May I also add that I am proud to know your fine parents and gave several talks in their church while I was teaching in the School of Religion at Morehouse College.

Gratefully yours,
[signed] Hazel E. Foster
Rev. Hazel E. Foster

1. Hazel Elora Foster (1885-?), born in Cleveland, Ohio, earned her B.A. (1909) at Ohio Wesleyan University and her M.A. (1929), B.D. (1932), and Ph.D. (1933) at the University of Chicago Divinity School. She served various churches and Christian colleges until she left for India. Upon her return to the United States she was pastor of a Congregational church in Wisconsin before taking teaching positions at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College (1946-1947), Spelman College (1947-1950), and Morehouse College (1950-1953). After teaching in the Philippines for a year she became an independent scholar and author.

2. Foster refers to the “Quit India” campaign, the last major satyagraha Gandhi launched against the British.


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