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To Martin Luther King, Sr.

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Author: King, Martin Luther, Jr.

Date: February 1, 1960

Location: Montgomery, Ala.?

Genre: Letter

Topic: Martin Luther King, Jr. - Career in Ministry

Martin Luther King, Jr. - Family


King writes his father in preparation for his first sermon as co-pastor at Ebenezer. On 7 February, a standing-room-only crowd filled the sanctuary and overflowed into the basement where loudspeakers had been set up for King’s return to the church in which he had grown up.1 Preaching “Three Dimensions of a Complete Life,” King reportedly explained that “many of today’s problems are because our white brothers are only concerned with the length of life—their preferred economical position, their social status, their political power and their so-called ‘way of life.’”2

Rev. M. L. King, Sr.
The Ebenezer Baptist Church
407 Auburn Avenue, N.E.
Atlanta, Georgia

Dear Dad:

Enclosed is a biographical sketch which Esther can use in preparing her article for my first sermon as new Co-Pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church on Sunday.3 Tell her to feel free to use as much of this material as she desires. You may request Scott to put the article in a prominent place. It may be better to put the longer article with the picture in the Thursday or Friday paper and then have another short notice in the Saturday paper.4

I will look forward to seeing you Thursday.

Very sincerely,
M. L.


1. King’s father introduced him as “a grown man, whose decisions have been respected the world over” and remarked: “We can’t look on him as little M. L. now. To all of us he is now Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” (Paul Delaney, “‘Follow Way of Love,’ Dr. King Asks People,” Atlanta Daily World, 9 February 1960).

2. Delaney, “‘Follow Way of Love,’ Dr. King Asks People.” King delivered similar sermons in January and February (Harvard University Memorial Church, Program, “Order of worship,” 10 January 1960, and King, “The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life,” Sermon delivered at Friendship Baptist Church, 28 February 1960; see also “The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life,” Sermon Delivered at the Unitarian Church of Germantown, 11 December 1960, pp. 571-579 in this volume).

3. King may refer to Esther M. Smith, Ebenezer’s Social Action Committee chair and director of Christian Education.

4. C. A. Scott, editor and publisher of the Atlanta Daily World, was a member of Ebenezer’s congregation. An article announcing King’s return to Ebenezer appeared in the paper the day before his Sunday sermon (“Dr. M. L. King Jr. Preaches at Ebenezer Church Sunday,” Atlanta Daily World, 6 February 1960).

Source: MLKP-MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University, Boston, Mass.

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