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Maude L. Ballou to Malcolm X

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Author: Ballou, Maude L.

Date: February 1, 1957

Location: Montgomery, Ala.?

Genre: Letter

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


King's secretary responds to Nation of Islam minister Malcolm X.1

Mr. Malcolm X
25-46 99th Street
E. Elmhurst 69, New York

Dear Mr. X:

This is to acknowledge receipt of your letters to Rev. M. L. King, Jr.

Rev. King has read your letters and articles with great interest.2 He wants to thank you for your kindness in sending them.

Yours very truly,
(Mrs.) Maude L. Ballou3
Secretary to Rev. King

1. Malcolm X (El Hajj Malik el-Shabazz) (1925-1965), born Malcolm Little in Omaha, Nebraska, joined the Nation of Islam while serving a prison term in Massachusetts. Soon after his release on parole in 1952, he became a minister for the group led by Elijah Muhammad. After serving at temples in Boston and Philadelphia, Malcolm X became minister of New York’s Temple 7 in 1954 and soon emerged as the leading spokesman for the Nation of Islam. He broke with the Nation of Islam after being suspended by Muhammad in 1963 for making controversial comments following President Kennedy’s assassination. In 1964 Malcolm X founded the Organization of Afro-American Unity to work for African-American human rights. Despite his continuing efforts to contact King, the two did not meet until a brief encounter in March 1964 at the Capitol. On 21 February 1965, less than three weeks after meeting Coretta Scott King in Selma, Alabama, during a protest movement in that city, Malcolm X was assassinated in Harlem.

2. The letters that Ballou acknowledges have not been located. Two articles in King’s files may have been among those sent by Malcolm X: Malcolm X, “We Are Rising From the Dead Since We Heard Messenger Muhammad Speak,” Pittsburgh Courier, 15 December 1956; Herbert H. Hyman and Paul B. Sheatsley, “Attitudes Toward Desegregation,” Scientific American 195 (December 1956).

3. Maude L. Williams Ballou (1926-), born in Fairhope, Alabama and raised in Mobile, received a B.S. (1947) from Southern University. After moving to Montgomery in 1952, Ballou participated in meetings of the Women’s Political Council, an organization that demanded the city provide better transportation and other services for the black community. Ballou began working for the MIA as King’s personal secretary shortly after the start of the bus boycott. When King moved to Atlanta in February 1960, Ballou relocated to help establish his office in that city.

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

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