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From Joel Lawrence King

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Author: King, Joel Lawrence 

Date: February 8, 1954

Location: Lansing, Mich. 

Genre: Letter

Topic: Martin Luther King, Jr. - Family


Dear M. L.:

I am writing you concerning a matter which has occured since our last communication, that is that our local branch of the N.A.A.C.P. which holds its monthly meeting the first Sunday in each month.

Dr. Jessie Mcneil of Detroit was our guest speaker on yesterday, he brought a very fine message.1 He also asked about you. I told him that you would be in Detroit with Rev. Banks on the fourth Sunday, and with me the first Sunday in March.

I have asked our President for you to be our guest speaker for our branch, which will be the First Sunday afternoon in March at 4 P.M. You will also be receiving a letter from our publicity committee, a Mr. Lee. I am asking that you would accept the engagement, as it would mean much to you and me. Rember that this is a cross section of Negro and White. Usually the message is from one half hour to one hour long. Would like for you to bring them a burning message, centering around some of our present day problems.

If he use your Cut, well I will not use it. Remember if you speak at this meeting there will be no Youth speaking for my young people in the afternoon.

Please call me immediately Collect after receiving the letter from him so that you may have full understanding of the whole matter whether I am here or in Atlanta. Again may I say that I will be leaving on the 14 and will be back by the 28th.


1. Jesse Jai McNeil (1913–1965) studied at Shurtleff College before earning a B.D. at Virginia Union University and B.S., M.A., and Ed.D. degrees at Columbia University. In 1947 he was called to the pastorate of Detroit’s Baptist Tabernacle, where he remained until 1961, when he became pastor of Metropolitan Baptist Church in Pasadena, California. In 1964 he joined the faculty of California Baptist Theological Seminary in Covina as its first African-American professor. In addition to serving as a director of the National Baptist Convention’s Sunday School Publishing Board, McNeil wrote many books, including Things That Matter Now (1946), A Present Help (1958), The Preacher-Prophet in Mass Society (1961), and Mission in Metropolis (1965). See Charles Emerson Boddie, “Jesse Jai McNeil,” in God’s Bad Boys (Valley Forge, Pa.: Judson Press, 1972), pp. 93–102.

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

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