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To L. M. Terrill

King, Martin Luther, Jr. (Montgomery Improvement Association)
September 14, 1956
Montgomery Bus Boycott


Having been warned by his doctor that exhaustion was threatening his health, King declines Terrill's invitation to give five lectures in November. Terrill, pastor of Zion Hill Baptist Church, was, like King, Sr., active in the Atlanta Missionary Baptist Association and the Atlanta District Sunday School and Baptist Training Union Congress, the sponsors of the annual Leadership Training School to which King was to give the evening chapel sermons.1 Terrill had extended the invitation to King during the National Baptist Convention's annual meeting; he then confirmed it in a 17 September letter written before he received this letter from King. “To me,” Terrill had written, "you are the kind of man who comes once in a lifetime and Atlanta will be out to hear you and give you the type of recognition that you so rightly deserve.” King later agreed to participate in the 1957 training school, delivering the closing chapel sermon on 8 November.

Dr. L. M. Terrell
151 Chicomanga Place, S.W.
Atlanta, Georgia

Dear Dr. Terrell:

This is to confirm our conversation in Denver concerning the possibility of my coming to Atlanta to serve as guest speaker for your annual study course.

After returning to Montgomery and checking my schedule very scrutinizingly I find that circumstances make it necessary for me to decline your gracious invitation. The first reason is a very practical one. My physician has insisted that I slow up for my own health. Secondly, things will be of such a nature in Montgomery for the next two or three months that I cannot afford to be out of the city more than one or two days at a time. The third reason grows out of a rather large responsibility that I have undertaken. I am in the process of writing a book, and in order to complete it at the stipulated time it will be impossible for me to accept any more speaking engagements for the rest of the year. Please know that I regret this very deeply. It is even more regretable in the light of the fact that you have taken such a personal interest in me and the cause which I am representing. Moreover, it is regretable in the light of the fact that Atlanta is my home town. But with the present difficulties I am sure you will understand. If you will take these factors under consideration and hold my invitation over until next year, I am sure the pressure of events will have let up by that time, and I will be very happy to serve you.

Very sincerely yours,
M. L. King, Jr.,


1.Terrill offered his sympathies to King in his 6 October reply: “We have not ceased praying for you for we understand the persecutions through which you are passing.” Levi M. Terrill (1899-1971), born in Mobley, Mississippi, attended Morehouse with King, Sr. He earned a B.A. (1928) and a B.D. (1950) from Morehouse and an M.A. (1951) from Atlanta University. He taught at the Morehouse School of Religion from 1953 to 1971. He became president of the General Missionary Baptist Convention of Georgia in 1957 and then served as vice president of the National Baptist Convention for more than ten years. Terrill was among those King, Sr., convened to ask his son to leave Montgomery after the indictments in February 1956.


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