Unitarian minister Homer Jack, together with Albert A. Harkins, former president of the Universalist Ministers Association of America, and David H. Cole, current president of the organization, visited Montgomery for four days in early March. On 9 March Jack wrote a newsletter to “those interested in the non-violent resistance aspects of the Montgomery, Alabama protest against segregation on the city buses.” In it he listed “surface” similarities and differences between the Montgomery struggle and other Gandhian movements, noting that although “the Gandhian flavor was not apparent at the beginning” of the boycott, it had not been “imported by outsiders.”1
Dr. and Mrs. Martin Luther King, Jr.
309 S. Jackson
I want to thank you again for your kindness toward myself and my associates in our recent visit to Montgomery. In two days we were able to get the feel of your wonderful protest movement—The Montgomery Advertiser to the contrary.2
What you are leading is a very heartening movement with the greatest of import for the future of race relations in the nation as a whole. Last weekend I had a good talk with Howard Thurman about your protest and a few days ago with Archibald Carey.
I understand one of my colleagues telephoned you and urged you to come here to address a meeting. He did not speak for me, certainly, for I feel you have much more important work to do in Montgomery just now, and all speaking can wait.
If we in the North can, with circumspection, be of specific help, please let us know. In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers will be with you, especially as 1956 the trials begin.
Homer A. Jack
1. Homer Alexander Jack (1916-1993), born in Rochester, New York, earned his B.S. (1936) and Ph.D. (1940) from Cornell University and his B.D. (1944) from Meadville Theological School in Chicago. He was pastor of the Unitarian Church of Evanston from 1948 to 1959. A founder of the Congress on Racial Equality, Jack also served as executive secretary of the Chicago Council Against Racial and Religious Discrimination (1944- 1948) and vice chair of the Illinois ACLU (1950-1959). He would later become active in the American Committee on Africa and the peace movement. Jack edited The Wit and Wisdom of Gandhi (1951) and The Gandhi Reader: A Source Book of His Life and Writings (1956). In his newsletter, Jack compared the Montgomery movement to other nonviolent resistance campaigns that he had observed. Among the differences Jack noted were the Montgomery movement’s lack of a charismatic leader, “although Dr. King may soon fill that need”; the lack of preparation “for non-violence in an extreme situation”; the absence of “careful organizational machinery”; and no “communist party participation… as in South Africa and Goa.”
2. On 9 March 1956 the Montgomery Advertiser published a critical article, “Boycott Experts from North Plan Full Report for Public,” about their visit to Montgomery.
MLKP, MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University, Boston, Mass.