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To Marie F. Rodell

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Author: King, Martin Luther, Jr.

Date: November 13, 1957

Location: Montgomery, Ala.?

Genre: Letter

Topic: Martin Luther King, Jr. - Political and Social Views


In a 28 October letter to King, his literary agent Rodell recommended that his contract with Harper & Brothers be emended to include several revisions proposed by attorney Pauli Murray.1 In the following letter King authorizes Rodell to renegotiate with Harper; a subsequent rider to the contract incorporated King's requested changes.2

Mrs. Marie Rodell
Literary Agent
15 East 48th Street
New York 17, New York

Dear Mrs. Rodell:

Enclosed is the Harper contract with my signature. I have read the contract very scrutinizingly. I have also read each of the suggestions that Pauli Murray made. I would like to ask you to urge Harpers to make the changes that Pauli Murray suggested under her points 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6.3 Points 4, 7, 8, 9, and 11 need not be pressed.

I will be keeping in touch with you as my writing progresses. I am still working hard to have the first draft completed by the first of December. You will be receiving some chapters from me in a few days.

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


1. At the request of Stanley Levison, attorney Pauli Murray reviewed King’s 17 October contract with Harper & Brothers and recommended detailed changes that she sent to Rodell (see Murray to Levison, 23 October 1957). Anna Pauline (Pauli) Murray (1910-1985), born in Baltimore, Maryland, earned a B.A. (1933) from Hunter College. In 1938 she was denied admission to graduate school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill because of her race. Murray graduated from Howard University Law School with an LL.B. (1944), first in her class and the only woman. While at Howard, Murray participated in sit-ins to desegregate several local restaurants. After being denied admission to Harvard University Law School because of her sex, she earned an LL.M. (1945) from Boalt Hall of the University of California. Believing there was a need for an “NAACP for women,” Murray was among the founders of the National Organization for Women (NOW) in 1966. At the age of sixty seven Murray became the first black woman ordained an Episcopal priest.

2. Rodell to Harper & Brothers, 15 November 1957.

3. Murray’s suggestions included offering King the option of participating with the publisher in potential copyright infringement suits; it also provided for his separate defense in suits against the publisher. She further advised that King retain control over the assignment of royalties.

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

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