Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation

From Irene Dobbs Jackson

Main content start

Author: Jackson, Irene Dobbs

Date: May 21, 1957

Location: Toulouse, France

Genre: Letter

Topic: Martin Luther King, Jr. - Political and Social Views


Irene Dobbs Jackson, a member of Atlanta's prominent Dobbs family and a long-time friend of the King family, extends her best wishes to the “home town boy” who appeared on the cover of Time in February.1 King thanked Jackson on 31 May for her letter and told her that on his return from Ghana, he met with her father, John Wesley Dobbs, in Paris.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 
Dexter Ave. Baptist Church 
Montgomery, Ala-U.S.A.

Dear M. L.:

It has been my good fortune to talk to several large audiences here in this old city in the Southwest corner of France since I arrived September 1956 for study at the university. Always, I’m asked to explain segregation tactics and to bring them up to date on the integregation efforts in transportation and education, especially. Naturally, it is impossible to talk about the South today without presenting you and your philosophy.

It was thrilling to buy Time (Atlantic Edition) late in February and see a hometown boy who had “made good”—on the cover—one who had become a man with a purposeful face.

Daddy came by Toulouse after Ghana to see me and my three children who are going to public schools here.2 We talked of your tremendous courage and level-headedness and I decided to write you to let you know that, I, for one, pray for your increased strength and know-how. If you never intended to become great—you are anyway and the world won’t let you be anything less.

I cut this notice of the Washington Pilgrimage out of the local papers (La Dépêche—Toulouse) . Thought you might want it for your files.

Best regards to your wife and may the future bring blessing to you all.

I will be home (Houston St.) after July 1st until Sept. 15th.

There’s so much spiritual depression here and there. Except for seeing dear ones, it won’t be especially uplifting to come back to Atlanta. But then, the Algerian impasse is sapping the French in every way—especially spiritually.3 So It might be refreshing, at that, to live a few weeks among people who have right on their side.

[signed] Irene Dobbs Jackson

1. Irene Wesley Dobbs Jackson (1908-) was born in Atlanta, the oldest of six daughters of John Wesley Dobbs, an Atlanta civic leader. Irene Dobbs graduated from Spelman College (1929) and studied at the University of Chicago, Middlebury College, the University of Grenoble, and the University of Toulouse prior to her marriage to Maynard H. Jackson, Sr., pastor of Atlanta’s Friendship Baptist Church. Widowed in 1953, Jackson returned to the University of Toulouse, where she received her Ph.D. (1958). Jackson taught French at Spelman College, Bishop College, and North Carolina Central University. Her son, Maynard Jackson, Jr.. became Atlanta’s first black mayor.

2. Jackson refers to her children Carol Ann, Connie, and Paul.

3. After several decades of unsuccessful peaceful resistance to colonial rule, Algerian nationalists in 1954 organized the National Liberation Front (FLN) to carry out attacks against French troops and colonists. International opposition to French rule grew during the 1950s following revelations that the army used torture centers and concentration camps to combat FLN rebels. On 3 July 1962 France granted Algeria its independence.

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

© Copyright Information