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From Joseph C. Parker, Sr.

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Author: Parker, Joseph C. (Hall Street Baptist Church)

Date: March 10, 1954

Location: Montgomery, Ala.

Genre: Letter

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


Parker, minister of Hall Street Baptist Church in Montgomery, counsels King to accept Dexter’s call.1 He confidentially informs King of Dexter’s salary offer and McCall’s second trial sermon.

Rev. M. L. King Jr.
396 Northampton St.
Apt. 5
Boston, Mass.

My dear King:

I am sure that you have been informed of your call to the pastorate of the Dexter Ave. Baptist Church. If you haven’t been informed already you will in the very near future.

Any way, I certainly hope that you will accept this Church. I have told them all along that you were the man for them. I have told them further that I believed that you would accept them. Even though, I don’t know how you are thinking, I believe it will be to your advantage to accept this church. Furthermore, I shall be very pleased to have you pastor in the city with me.

Now confidentially, I should like to give you a slight idea of what they agreed to offer you for a salary. Of course, they may have told you. Anyway, they voted to offer you anywhere from $4000.00 to $4800.00 per year salary. This is the highest salary of any minister in the city.

The members said that they wanted a minister who would stay with them a long time and not resort to teaching. Of course, I had them to know that no minister knew how long he would stay with a church. But, I told them that the type of salary they offered a minister would have a great deal to do with how long he stayed with them.

I should like to say that, they have installed their officers and adopted their program for this year. Thus far, I understand that they are planning to have men’s day, women’s day homecoming day and youth day. I felt that they should have waited before adopting this program. But, nevertheless you can master the situation.

By the way, McCall came and fell through. The people forgot all about him as a prospect.

But, the Church voted unanimously for you.

Please remember that, what I have told you is to be kept strictly confidentially. I just wanted you to have some idea about the Church in advance of your acceptance. But, please consider them.

Yours in Christ,
[signed] Rev. J. C. Parker

P.S. Give our regards to your wife.

1. Joseph C. Parker, Sr. (1920–1987), served in the U.S. Army for several years before graduating in 1949 from Morehouse College, where his friendship with King began. He received his B.D. from Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta in 1958. He was pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Alabama, before serving as principal of a school in Childersburg, Alabama, and pastor of Pilgrim Baptist Church in Anniston. In 1953 he was called to Hall Street Baptist Church in Montgomery. He was active in the Montgomery bus boycott before moving to Birmingham in 1957, when he became pastor of Jackson Street Baptist Church. As pastor of Jackson Street, he was involved in the Birmingham movement and groups struggling for social justice, including the NAACP and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In 1971 he became the pastor of Mount Gilead Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, and later served as director of church relations at Bishop College in Dallas. At the time of his death he was pastor of the Parker Memorial Missionary Baptist Church in Dallas. See Joseph C. Parker, Jr., to King Papers Project, 11 July 1990 and 18 August 1992.

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

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