Jackson, president of the National Baptist Convention, declines King’s invitation to preach at Dexter in July 1956.1
Dr. M. L. King, Jr.
309 South Jackson Street
Dear Dr. King:
Thanks for your kind letter of September 26th.
I would be delight to serve you and your congregation the second Sunday in July, 1956, but a previous engagement will hinder my fellowship with you.
I am delighted to know of the great work that you are doing at Dexter. I know we can count on you and your congregation to help us build the kind of National Baptist Convention that will reflect credit on our founding fathers, and will be an inspiration both to the present and future generation.
J. H. Jackson
1. Joseph Harrison Jackson (1900–1990) received his B.A. from Jackson College (later Jackson State University) in 1926 and his B.D. from Colgate Rochester Divinity School in 1932. He later received an M.A. from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. After serving churches in Nebraska, Pennsylvania, and his home state of Mississippi, he became pastor of Chicago’s Olivet Baptist Church in 1941. Jackson succeeded the late president of the National Baptist Convention, L. K. Williams, as pastor of Olivet, which was one of the largest churches in the United States. After serving as secretary of the foreign mission board and vice-president of the National Baptist Convention, Jackson was elected president of the organization in 1953. Jackson presided during a time of deep disagreement among the group’s members over the role the church should play in the civil rights movement, a conflict that eventually led to the 1961 formation of an opposition group committed to church involvement, the Progressive National Baptist Convention. He resigned as president of the National Baptist Convention in 1982. Jackson’s publications include Unholy Shadows and Freedom’s Holy Light (1967) and A Story of Christian Activism: The History of the National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc. (1980).
MLKP-MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University, Boston, Mass.