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To Herbert H. Eaton

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Author: King, Martin Luther, Jr.

Date: September 30, 1960

Location: Atlanta, Ga.?

Genre: Letter

Topic: Martin Luther King, Jr. - Career in Ministry


King replies to a 28 September letter from Herbert H. Eaton, the pastor who replaced him at Dexter.1 Eaton wrote that he could not “help but feel proud at succeeding” King and welcomed advice “so as to profit from some of your experiences.” 2 He also invited King to speak at the church's anniversary celebration on 11 December.

The Reverend Herbert H. Eaton, Minister
Dexter Avenue Baptist Church
454 Dexter Avenue
Montgomery 4, Alabama

Dear Brother Eaton:

First let me extend my sincere congratulation to you for being called to the pastorate of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. Although this is a little belated, my congratulation is as much from the heart as it would have been if it had come earlier. I know that you will have a rich and rewarding experience in your pastorate at Dexter. I can assure you that you have some of the finest people in the world to work with. Dexter is indeed fortunate to have a man of your training, background and Christian commitment. I will be more than happy to talk with you concerning some of my experiences at Dexter. and give you whatever counsel that I possibly can. If you are ever planing to be in Atlanta, please feel free to stop in our home.

I know nothing that would please me more than the opportunity of coming back to Dexter in December to preach the Anniversary sermon. Unfortunately, however, my calendar reveals that I have a long standing commitment to speak in Boston on the second Sunday in December.3 Please know that I regret this very deeply. I hope it will be possible to serve you and my warm friends of Dexter on some other occasion. Please do not hesitate to call on me.

Again, let me thank you for the invitation. Give my best regards to the entire membership, and do stop in to see me when you are up this way so that we can have a talk. If I can ever be of help to you from a distance, remember that I am as close as the telephone.

Very sincerely yours,
Martin L. King, Jr.


1. For more on Dexter’s search for a minister, see King to Earl Wesley Lawson, 23 April 1960, pp. 441-442 in this volume.

2. Herbert Hoover Eaton (1928- ), born in North Carolina, received a B.S. (1951) from North Carolina College at Durham, a B.D. (1956) from Howard University, an S.T.M. (1957) from Boston University, and an M.A. from Howard University (1972). Prior to his arrival at Dexter, Eaton worked as an administrative assistant to the dean of the School of Religion at Howard University from 1957 to 1960. In 1963, he was chairman of the board of directors of the MIA. Eaton served as Dexter’s pastor until 1965, when he accepted the pastorate at Kenwood United Church of Christ in Chicago.

3. On 11 December, King delivered “The Future of Integration” at the Ford Hall Forum in Boston.

Source: MLKP-MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Boston University, Boston, Mass.

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