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From Maude L. Ballou

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Author: Ballou, Maude L. (Virginia State College)

Date: October 3, 1960

Location: Petersburg, Va.

Genre: Letter

Topic: Martin Luther King, Jr. - Family


Ballou, who became King’s secretary soon after the Montgomery bus boycott began, relocated to Atlanta in January 1960 to help establish his new office.1 She writes following her family’s move to Petersburg, Virginia.

Dear Martin,

The campus and buildings here are lovely. The atmosphere is really collegiate. From all indications Virginia State is a well organized school. I went to work the Tuesday after I arrived in the Registrar’s office. Dr. Daniel sent for me to have a conference that Sunday night, and wanted me to go to work that Monday, but I waited until Tuesday since registration was Monday.2

—Hope all is well with you, the office and family. Len and the children are fine, and send their regards.3 I like it here. But I do not like the “temporary” housing—it is awful! Vicki is still in Norfolk with Mom and Dad. Len likes his work, the school, etc. The children like it here very much. Last week E. Franklin Frazier was here. Enjoyed him. He made an excellent reference to you in his lecture.4 After the lecture we went to a lovely reception. This week we went to see two operas presented by the New York Opera Festival (The Wagner Opera Co., Inc.)—Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci. I am really enjoying being here with Len and the children although I am kept busy trying to find a place to put various things in this terrible, terrible apartment. You will have to see it to appreciate how undesirable it is (smiles). We do not have a telephone yet. We just applied for one last week.

I miss you very, very much, the office and general routine that had become a part of me and my life.

How are the ladies downstairs? Miss Watkins and Mrs. Reid?5 My regards to them. Please write me because I would like to hear from you. How is Lillie?6 I am sure she is doing fine and still enjoying Atlanta. Hello to Coretta. Will write her soon.

[signed] Maude

P.S. Howard, Lenny and Joyce have asked about you many, many times. We have had such a nice time since being here. I took them to a football game last week (Saturday). The people here have been wonderful. Am looking forward to hearing from you soon!

[signed] M

1. Ballou lived with the Kings in Atlanta until leaving for Petersburg in August 1960 (Ballou, Interview by King Papers Project staff, 6 February 2002).

2. Robert P. Daniel was president of Virginia State College from 1950 until 1968.

3. Ballou refers to her husband, Leonard, and their four children, Vicki, Joyce, Howard, and Leonard, Jr.

4. Franklin, a pioneering African American sociologist, delivered the main address at the college’s formal opening convocation on 30 September.

5. Lillian Watkins served as Ebenezer’s senior secretary from 1928 until 1975. Sarah A. Reed began working as a church secretary in 1943.

6. Lillie M. Hunter, a church secretary at Dexter, also moved to Atlanta in 1960, where she worked with SCLC until 1970.

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

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