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To Martin Luther King, Sr.

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Author: King, Martin Luther, Jr.

Date: January 18, 1940

Location: Atlanta, Ga.

Genre: Letter

Topic: Martin Luther King, Jr. - Family


Three days after his eleventh birthday, King, Jr., uses a child’s typewriter to write to his father, who was preaching at a two-week revival at Shiloh Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio. “Mother Dear” is his mother, Alberta Williams King. “Mama” refers to his grandmother, Jennie Celeste Parks Williams. The ward was a residential subdivision of Ebenezer Baptist Church’s congregation. “Uncle Jim and Aunt Essie” are King, Sr.’s younger brother, James Albert King, Jr., and his wife, Esther King. “Miss Rutland” is Miss Carrie Rutland, a member of Ebenezer Church and a neighbor of the King family on Auburn Avenue. “The Ray family” refers to the family of the Reverend Sandy Ray, a friend of King, Sr., since their days together as students at Morehouse College.1 Ray was the pastor of Shiloh Baptist.

I am getting along fine and hoppe you are the same we got your letter. We are praying that you might have a safe trip home. I am doing fine in my scool work. Mother dear bought me a hat for my birthday present from you. We have been having warm wether every day since Tuesday. We went to the ward Tuesday and we had a very nice metting. Uncle Jim and Aunt Essie said hello. I hope you are having a nice metting. And we are looking for coal wether tomorrow it was in the paper. At the scout metting Tuesday and we had fifteen boys and we are doing fine in scouting. Mama said hello and keep well and so did Miss Rutland give love to the Ray familly I am going to end

Your truly
Your son M. L. Jr

1. Sandy F. Ray (1898–1979) graduated with Martin Luther King, Sr., from Morehouse College in 1930. He served Baptist churches in LaGrange, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois; Columbus, Ohio; and Macon, Georgia, before moving to Cornerstone Baptist Church in Brooklyn, New York, where he was pastor for forty years. Ray served as president of the New York State Baptist Convention and as an officer of the National Baptist Convention for many years. In 1953, he was one of six candidates for president of the National Baptist Convention. Ray remained a close family friend. In 1958, King, Jr., convalesced in Ray’s Brooklyn parsonage after being stabbed while autographing copies of Stride Toward Freedom, and Ray offered the eulogy at the funeral of Alberta Williams King in 1974.

Source: CKFC, INP, Christine King Farris Collection, In Private Hands.

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