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From Hilda S. Proctor

Author: 
Proctor, Hilda S.
Date: 
May 22, 1959
Location: 
Honolulu, Hawaii
Genre: 
Letter
Topic: 
Martin Luther King, Jr. - Family
Montgomery Bus Boycott
Nonviolence

Details

Proctor, who served as King's secretary in the spring of 1958 while Maude Ballou was on maternity leave, reports attending a Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) meeting in Hawaii, where she had recently relocated. Those in attendance discussed FOR field secretary Glenn Smiley's contribution to the Montgomery bus protest. King replied on 1 June.1

Dear Martin:

I have just come from an FOR meeting where your book was reviewed by one Reverend Donald Gaylord of the Pearl Harbor Community Church. I was invited to tell the people “just what is Martin Luther King like?”, or I should say, to answer that question.

It is odd that all across the country, in places where I have stopped, people have asked me that question more than any other. . . . like, “do you think they are making any progress down there?”

As you have said to me, I am, at times, inclined to be cynical . . . This might come from my long experience with people. Anyway, I have detected a note of reluctance on the part of many white people to come right out and declare that what you represent is not only for “you people” but for all mankind.

Today, at this meeting, a Haole (white) woman said. “Of course, you know that Glenn Smiley was down there for a long time working with the people and teaching them about passive resistence, so that when this bus problem arose, it was just the culmination of his work and Martin Luther King’s work was made easier for Glenn having been there.

I don’t know whether or not I was wrong, but I told them all that I doubted that any of the people in Montgomery had even heard of non-violence until Martin Luther King taught it to them. I explained that white people just do not go into Mountgomery and teach the Negroes anything. . that is live among them, organize them and teach them non-violence. Then a Chinese or oriental woman spoke up and said that she agreed that Glenn had laid the foundation for your boycott success. The only other Negro there, Shelton Hale Bishop, retired from St. Philips Church in Harlem spoke up and said that he doubted seriously if the people had heard anything about Glenn Smiley until AFTER THE BUS BOYCOTT.2

This is one of the things that I do not like about the FOR and why I resigned. It is a parasite organization. . . moves in on something that someone else has done. I have found this to be true since I joined the Fellowship of Youths for Peace in my teens.

I am sending, under separate cover, a book which belongs to the Rev. Gaylord and which he would like to have you autograph and return to him directly at Pearl Harbor.3

Also, I am enclosing a check for two books and postage. Please autograph them and send them to

Mrs. Aiko T. Reinecke4
1555 Piikor Street
Honolulu 14, Hawaii

Mr. Zenichi Abe5
P.O. Box 88
Waipahu, Oahu

They are going to try to raise some money to have you come to Hawaii to speak in the fall when you are in California. Can you do it?

If it will make Maud feel “any ways happy”, they asked how come you did not mention me in your book for credit-giving as they did her. I told them that she was the REAL secretary. , . . . I was just a sort of stop-gap.

Please give my love to Coretta and tell her to come here with you and sing. She has all the ingredients that make up a breathtaking Hawiian lass. . . . long “blow” hair; color, beauty, smile and. . . . hips to swing to the hula-hula.

Please also give my best to Betty. I wanted to send her a card from here, but forgot her last name.

I know you haven’t the time to read all this, but I’ll send it anyway.

Cordially,
[signed] Hilda

P.S. My black ribbon has a hole in it, hence the red.

1. See pp. 218-219 in this volume.

2. Shelton Hale Bishop, a priest and chairman of the Honolulu chapter of FOR, moved to Hawaii in 1957 after retiring from St. Philip’s, the largest Episcopal church in the country. He hosted King during his September visit to Hawaii (see King, Address to the House of Representatives of the First Legislature, State of Hawaii, on 17 September 1959, pp. 277-281 in this volume).

3. Donald F. Gaylord was the minister at Pearl Harbor Community Church in Honolulu, Hawaii. In a 27 July 1959 letter, he thanked King for his “kindness in autographing my copy of your book.”

4. Aiko Reinecke and her husband, John, longtime civil rights and civil liberties activists, were fired from the Honolulu schools in 1948 for their suspected affiliation with the Communist Party.

5. Abe was a trade union activist and a pacifist.

Source: 

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