Still a Dexter member after many years in California, Nesbitt responds to a call in the Dexter Echo for donations to finance the Kings’ trip to the Ghanaian independence celebration.1 At a 24 February bon voyage party at Dexter Church, congregation members presented the Kings with a $2,500 check to cover “the cost of transportation, as a courtesy from the church to express its love and Christian affection to the honorees"; Nesbitt's letter was read to the gathering. 2 On 3 May King thanked Nesbitt for his contribution.
Dear Dr. King,
Best wishes and a continuance of Gods blessing for the fine work that you have done and are still doing, is, and has been my prayer for many, many, months.
I saw in “The Dexter Echo” that the church is giving you a trip to Gold Coast, Africa. It is a wonderful and highly deserved gesture on the part of the church to realize just how tired + worn you must be, and that you need a rest + a change, if any one ever needed it. I am so much in accord with the plan, that I want to have a little part in it, so am sending you $500 for a dinner aboard ship. And may God be with you all the way + return you to us safely, feeling better in every way + ready to take up the cross again,
You will be welcomed with open arms in Africa, just as you will be welcomed on your return to the states + especially, [Montgry.] Alabama. God bless you.
[signed] J. E. Nesbitt
Best wishes to Mrs. King.
Think as little as possible of conditions in your city + try to enjoy every minute away from it. You owe that to yourself, your wife, + your friends.
Hope you wont be too tired to enjoy the Great Celebration, which will be so meaningful to the Gold Coasters, and to all of us, for their blessings.
1. “Dexter To Be Represented in Ghana,” Dexter Echo, 6 February 1957. Nesbitt’s letter was erroneously dated 14 January. James E. Nesbitt (1906-1996) was born in Montgomery. After finishing high school there Nesbitt moved to Los Angeles but remained associated with Dexter, where his brother Robert D. Nesbitt served as its longtime clerk and deacon.
2. “Dexter Bids the Kings Farewell,” Dexter Echo, 6 March 1957. In addition to the money from the congregation, King also received a donation from the MIA and a $500 gift from a supporter of In Friendship (MIA, Financial report, 1 April 1957; “A Brief Digest of the Activities of In Friendship,” 6 March 1957).
MLKP-MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Boston University, Boston, Mass.