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To Marie F. Rodell

Author: 
King, Martin Luther, Jr.
Date: 
November 30, 1960
Genre: 
Letter
Topic: 
Martin Luther King, Jr. - Political and Social Views

Details

In a 31 October letter, King's literary agent informed him that Coronet, a family magazine, wished to have journalist Louis Lomax collaborate with him on an article about "the young American Negro of the next generation." In this reply, King explains that in light of Lomax's recent criticisms of the NAACP—with which King admits he agrees—it would not be "judicious to undertake the project at this time." 1

Miss Marie F. Rodell
15 East 48th Street
New York 17, New York

Dear Marie:

I regret that absence from the country for a few days, and an extremely crowded schedule made it impossible for me to get to your letter of October 31 before the present time.2

I am quite interested in the article proposed by CORONET magazine. I am sure that it could serve a real purpose. However, there is one little problem that I face at this time. It grows out of the person that CORONET has chosen to assist in writing the article.

Some months ago Mr. Louis Lomax wrote an article for HARPER'S magazine strongly criticising the N.A.A.C.P.3 As you can well imagine, this brought about a great uproar from N.A.A.C.P. officials. Actually, the article aroused the ire of N.A.A.C.P. supporters probably more than anything in recent years. While I privately agreed with many things that Mr. Lomax said in the article, I feel a moral obligation to preserve a public image of unity in our organizational work.

I am afraid that my writing an article with Mr. Lomax will be construed by N.A.A.C.P. officials as an endorsement of his views. Consequently, I do not think it will be judicious to undertake the project at this time. I might say, however, I will be more than happy to do the article with someone else. Or, as an alternative, I would be happy to take a few days off during the Christmas holidays to write it myself.4

I will look forward to hearing from you concerning your reaction.

Very sincerely yours,
Martin Luther King, Jr.

MLK. m

1. In her 1 December reply, Rodell informed King that she understood his reluctance to work with Lomax.

2. King was out of the country from 13 to 18 November to attend Nnamdi Azikiwe's inauguration as governor-general of Nigeria (see Azikiwe to King, 26 October 1960, pp. 533-534 in this volume).

3. In his article, Lomax called the student-led protests "proof that the Negro leadership class, epitomized by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, was no longer the prime mover of the Negro's social revolt" and concluded that "these militant young people completely reversed the power flow within the Negro community." Lomax described King as one of the major prophets of the "new gospel of the American Negro" (Lomax, "The Negro Revolt Against 'The Negro Leaders,'" Harper's Magazine, June 1960). Regarding the tension between the NAACP and student activists, see Roy Wilkins to King, 27 April 1960, pp. 444-446 in this volume.

4. After Rodell wrote King on 2 December that Coronet's senior editor would be "delighted" to have an article, King worked on a piece until Rodell informed him on 21 June of the following year that the magazine would discontinue publication in October and "we might just as well forget it" (King, "After Desegregation—What?" April 1961).

Source: 

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