On 18 April Reynolds had informed King that he would receive the Lovejoy Award, given annually by the Improved Benevolent Protective Order of Elks of the World to an American citizen “who has made a great contribution toward the advancement of minority groups in America.” Previous recipients included Marian Anderson, Mary McLeod Bethune, Ralph Bunche, and Thurgood Marshall. King attended the award ceremony on 27 August in Los Angeles. In May 1944 he had participated in an Elks oratorical contest in Dublin, Georgia, delivering a speech entitled “The Negro and the Constitution.”
Judge Hobson R. Reynolds
Elks Department of Civil Liberties
1522 North 16th Street
Philadelphia 21, Pa.
Dear Judge Reynolds:
This is just a note to acknowledge receipt of your letter of May 18, and to state how happy I was to hear from you. It was a real pleasure having you in our city and in our home. You were a real inspiration to the whole community in our struggle.
I am looking forward with great anticipation to receiving the “Lovejoy Award.” Let me again express my appreciation to you and the members of the committee for choosing me for this great honor. I will accept it with great humility and profound gratitude. Please feel free to contact me concerning further details.
Very sincerely yours,
M. L. King, Jr.,
1. Hobson R. Reynolds (1898-1991), born in Winton, North Carolina, opened Reynolds Funeral Home after graduating from Echels College of Mortuary Science. In 1934 he was elected to the Pennsylvania General Assembly. During his two terms he drafted the Reynolds Civil Rights Bill, the first such legislation in Pennsylvania, and served as a family court judge in Philadelphia. President Roosevelt chose Reynolds to be an observer at the formation of the United Nations, and President Eisenhower appointed him as assistant secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Reynolds joined Elks in the early 1930s and became Grand Director of Civil Liberties in 1939. He was elected Grand Exalted Ruler in 1960, in which capacity he served until 1982.
2. See Papers 1:109-111.
MLKP-MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University, Boston, Mass.