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To K. A. Gbedemah

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Author: King, Martin Luther, Jr.

Date: May 4, 1959

Location: Montgomery, Ala.?

Genre: Letter

Topic: Martin Luther King, Jr. - Travels


King thanks Ghana's finance minister for his hospitality during the March 1957 Ghanaian independence ceremonies and laments Gbedemah's encounter with segregation during a visit to the United States. He also promises to send him a copy of Stride Toward Freedom. In his 3 August reply, Gbedemah indicated that he had received the book and planned to read it during an upcoming holiday.

Mr. K. A. Gbedemah
Minister of Finance

Dear Mr. Gbedemah:

I have been intending to write you ever since I left Ghana in 1957 after having a most rewarding experience in your country during the Independence Celebration. Words are inadequate to express my appreciation to you for the personal courtesies that you extended to me and my wife. It was certainly gracious of you to take time out of your extremely busy schedule to entertain us in your lovely home. All of these things will remain in our thoughts so long as the cords of memory shall lengthen.

I am sorry that I missed seeing you when you were in the United States last year. I am also sorry that you faced such a humiliating experience in our country. But in spite of the odious effects of that experience, I think that it helped in the sense that it served to dramatize the absurdity of the whole system of segregation. The fact that the President hastily invited you to the White House reveals that America is now more sensitive to the rolling tide of world opinion than ever before.1

I am deeply grateful to you for sending me a telegram when I was in Harlem Hospital a few months ago. Your encouraging words came as a great spiritual lift to me.2 I am happy to say that I am doing very well now and have about recovered completely. As you well know, in this struggle for freedom and human dignity we must be prepared for sacrifices and suffering at all levels. Therefore, I am still moving on in the struggle with the conviction that unearned suffering is redemptive.

I am sending you under separate cover a copy of my book, Stride Toward Freedom. It was published a few months ago. It is a rather detailed account of our bus boycott here in Alabama and also an exposition of my philosophical and theological thinking on nonviolent resistance. I know that your schedule is extremely heavy, but if you have time to read it, I hope you will find it helpful. Since I only have a limited number of extra copies, I hope you can let our friend, Bill Sutherland read it.3

Please give my best regards to Bill and tell him that I will be writing him in the not too distant future. Also extend my best wishes to Mrs. [Adelaide Plange] Gbedemah.

Very sincerely yours,
Martin Luther King, Jr.

1. In October 1957, Eisenhower hosted a breakfast for Gbedemah after the African leader had been denied service at a Howard Johnson restaurant in Dover, Delaware (W. H. Lawrence, "Ghanan Is Served White House Meal," New York Times, 11 October 1957).

2. Gbedemah wrote that he was "shocked" by King's near-fatal stabbing and extended his "best wishes for speedy recovery" (Gbedemah to King, 22 September 1958).

3. African American pacifist William Sutherland was Gbedemah's secretary and had helped with arrangements for King's visit to Ghana.

Source: MLKP-MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Boston University, Boston, Mass.

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