Smith, pastor of First Baptist Church in Nashville, accepts King’s invitation to preach at Dexter in March 1956.1 He mentions that he will see King at the National Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in Memphis in September.
Dr. M. L. King, Jr.
Dexter Avenue Baptist Church
454 Dexter Avenue
I shall be honored, indeed to share with you the 11 o’clock services on the second Sunday in March. You see, I have no alternative, for I have not thought that far ahead in the matter of scheduling. I think you are taking advantage of the fact that the average cleric of this denominational and ethnic identification does no advance planning. You are showing us old veterans up. I am getting busy on my 1956 program tomorrow.
Seriously, though I shall be pleased to be with you and I am placing that date on my calendar. I don’t know how wise that is, however, as the following Sunday will be my fifth anniversary occasion (but without fanfare).
I am just back from a very revealing and educational trip to Europe and the Middle East,—thus the delay in answering.
I know you are still doing a monumental job there at Dexter and you have my sincerest prayers and best wishes.
See you in Memphis.
Kelly Miller Smith
1. Kelly Miller Smith (1920–1984) received his B.A. from Morehouse in 1942 and his B.D. from Howard University’s School of Religion in 1945. He was pastor of Mount Heroden Baptist Church in Vicksburg, Mississippi, from 1946 until 1951, when he became pastor of First Baptist Church in Nashville; he served that congregation until his death. He was also assistant dean of Vanderbilt University Divinity School from 1968 until 1984, a member of Morehouse School of Religion’s board of directors from 1975 until his death, and president of the National Conference of Black Christians from 1979 to 1982. He was a founding member and chaplain of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Nashville Christian Leadership Council, an affiliate of SCLC. His publications include Social Crisis Preaching (1984).
MLKP-MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University, Boston, Mass.