Nation of Islam minister Malcolm X invites King "as a spokesman and fellow-leader of our people" to a Harlem rally.1 In a 10 August reply, Kings secretary Maude Ballou informed Malcolm X that this invitation, forwarded from the NAACP office in New York, "arrived after your program was held."
Rev. Martin Luther King
NAACP 21 West 40th Street
New York, N.Y.
Dear Rev. King:
An "Education" Rally" will be held Sunday, July 31 st at 1 PM in the 369th Armory, 5th Avenue and 142nd Street.2
Mr. Elijah Muhammad, the spiritual head of the fastest growing group of Moslems in the Western Hemisphere will be the principle speaker.
Since so much controversy has been spoken and written about Mr. Muhammad and his "Black Muslims," we invite you as a spokesman and fellow-leader of our people to be among our invited guests, so you can see and hear Mr. Muhammad for yourself and then make a more intelligent appraisal of his teachings, his methods and his program.3
All invited guests will be given time to make any statements, comments or observations that they may desire. If you plan to attend, please write me at the above address, or call OLympia 1–6320.
Minister of Muhammad's New York
Temple of Islam
1. A newspaper advertisement for the rally listed King as one of the "invited guest speakers" ("Muhammad Is Coming to Harlem," New York Amsterdam News, 23 July 1960). An earlier advertisement indicated that King had been invited to a Nation of Islam rally in May 1960 ("Harlem Freedom Rally," New York Amsterdam News, 21 May 1960). Shortly after the conclusion of the Montgomery bus protest, Ballou had thanked Malcolm X for sending several letters and articles to King (Ballou to Malcolm X, 1 February 1957, in Papers 4:117).
2. For more on the rally, see "8,500 Crowd Armory to Hear Muhammad," New York Amsterdam News, 6 August 1960.
3. A week before the rally Malcolm X publicly "challenged Roy Wilkins, Martin Luther King, Thurgood Marshall and Jackie Robinson" to attend the event to "prove they weren't acting as 'paid parrots' for their white 'liberal bosses,' when they accused the Muslims of being a 'Black Ku Klux Klan, Black Supremists, and Racial Extremists'" ("A Switch—Muslims to Admit Whites to Rally!" New York Amsterdam News, 30 July 1960).
MLKP-MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Boston University, Boston, Mass.