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To J. H. Jackson

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Author: King, Martin Luther, Jr.

Date: August 7, 1958

Location: Montgomery, Ala.?

Genre: Letter

Topic: Martin Luther King, Jr. - Career in Ministry


King asks Jackson to consider appointing Ralph Abernathy chairman of the Social Action Commission of the National Baptist Convention. On the same day King sent copies of this letter to King, Sr. and other ministers, along with a request that they also recommend Abernathy to Jackson.1 On 22 August Jackson replied that he regretted not having Abernathy’s name earlier but “other names were presented several weeks ago, and a tentative agreement has been reached.”

Dr. J. H. Jackson, President
National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc.
3101 South Parkway
Chicago 16, Illinois

Dear Dr. Jackson:

The whole Baptist family was saddened by the death of our friend and fellow worker, Dr. C. L. Franklin of Brooklyn, New York.2 His contribution to the work of our denomination will long be remembered.

We are naturally driven to think of someone to succeed him as Chairman of the Social Action Commission of the National Baptist Convention. If you have not already appointed a person to fill this position, I would like to suggest the name of the Rev. Ralph D. Abernathy of Montgomery, Alabama. In many ways he is uniquely qualified to fill this post. He has proven his social concern through his work in the Montgomery Improvement Association and throughout the South. He is a marvelous organizer, an indefatigable worker and an able interpreter of the social gospel. His contacts across the nation would make it possible for him to bring the type of prestige to this commission that would in turn be a great deal of help to the National Baptist Convention.

Your prayerful consideration of this matter will be highly appreciated. I will look forward to seeing you at the convention in Chicago.3

You have my continued prayers and best wishes for the great work that you are doing.

Cordially yours,
Martin L. King, Jr.


1. King sent copies to C. K. Steele of Bethel Baptist Church, Tallahassee; A. L. Davis, New Zion Baptist Church, New Orleans; and Owen D. Pelt, Shiloh Baptist Church, Chicago. On 10 August Steele wrote Jackson a letter in support of Abernathy’s nomination.

2. Claude Lavoisier Franklin served as pastor of Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church in Brooklyn from 1939 until 1958. King sent condolences to Franklin’s widow on 23 June.

3. King attended the National Baptist Convention’s annual meeting, 9-14 September.

Source: MLKP-MBU. Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University, Boston, Mass.

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