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From Jewelle Taylor

Gibbs, Jewelle Taylor
April 14, 1956
Washington, D.C.
Martin Luther King, Jr. - Family
Montgomery Bus Boycott


Taylor, a 1955 graduate of Radcliffe College, was acquainted with King when he attended Boston University.1 King replied in early May.2

Dear Martin,

It was only a few years ago that we were all enjoying the casual pace of college life in Boston. In my Ivory Tower at Radcliffe I never envisioned the problems I would face as a Negro in the South and still in many areas in the North. Would you have known or even anticipated four years ago that the leadership of such an historic protest as the Montgomery boycott would devolve upon you?

None of the articles and the publicity have captured the essence of your unique personality, although they have won many heretofore lukewarm Negroes to the cause of civil rights. You and Coretta are living examples of the new generation of Negro leaders who, through perseverance and intelligent methods, are effectively tearing down the last vestiges of separate and unequal facilities.

Those of us who were in school with you in Boston have not yet ceased to wonder at the steadfastness and charismatic leadership that you have consistently exemplified through this movement. Your actions and your courage have belied your youth. Reports from some of my personal friends in that area indicate that you have been doing a wonderful job in your church and your community ever since you settled there.

A series of civil rights issues, climaxed by the Montgomery Boycott, pricked my conscience about my own apathy. As a result, I joined the local NAACP and am now working on a drive to get contributions and memberships from the businessmen. Enclosed is an item in this week’s Afro-American describing the project. Like a pebble thrown into the water, your efforts in Montgomery have produced many waves of action in other communities throughout the nation.

After I graduated from Radcliffe last June I accepted an appointment with the U.S Department of Labor as a Junior Management Trainee. My present training assignment is with the Foreign Labor Division of the Women’s Bureau. The training program is interesting but I’m going to give it up to be married in August to Jim Gibbs who is at Harvard now.

May you and you associates continue this wonderful work in Montgomery and throughout the South. You are living your faith and it is inspiring countless millions of darker people all over the world. Please give my sincerest regards to your wife and a kiss for your beautiful baby.

(With most affectionate regards,
[signed] Jewelle Taylor
“Sister in the Baptist Brotherhood”}

1. Jewelle Taylor (Gibbs) (1933-), born in Stratford, Connecticut, received her B.A. (1955) from Radcliffe College and her M.S.W. (1970), M.A. (1976), and Ph.D. (1980) from the University of California at Berkeley. During the early 1960s she served as co-chair of the Minnesota Women's Committee on Civil Rights and member of the Governor's Commission on the Status of Women.

2. See p. 242 in this volume.


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