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To O. Clay Maxwell

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Author: King, Martin Luther, Jr.

Date: July 18, 1958

Location: Montgomery, Ala.?

Genre: Letter

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

Martin Luther King, Jr. - Travels


At Maxwell’s request, King seconded New York minister Gardner Taylor’s nomination of Maxwell for president of the National Sunday School and Baptist Training Union Congress at its Omaha convention, held 18 through 21 June.1 Maxwell won the election, and King was elected vice president of the Congress. Maxwell responded to this letter on 22 July, noting that Taylor and King’s nominations were among "the most beautiful pieces of convention strategy I have seen in a long time."

The Rev. O. Clay Maxwell
New York City.

Dear Dr. Maxwell:

Ever since the Omaha meeting, I have been intending writing you a note to congratulate you for being elected president of the National Sunday School and Baptist Training Union Congress.2 As you could see, your election was a magnificent victory. It was overwhelming and this is just what I expected. What else could we do? The Congress has not only honored you by electing you president, but it has honored itself by elevating such a distinguished person to such a significant position.

I think the Convention at Omaha was the finest that I have ever witnessed in my many years of attending the Congress.

Although my election to the vice presidency came as a great surprise, I want you to know how delighted I am to be in this position. In spite of a tremendous schedule, I will not let this interfere with my work in the Congress. I will assist you at every hand and do whatever you want me to do to put over your program. Please feel free to call upon me at any time.

Since I have to plan my schedule a great deal in advance, I would appreciate it if you would, at your convenience, send me a schedule of the Board meetings and other meetings that I would be expected to attend as vice president of the Congress.

Again I say, we had a great meeting and it was one of the most glowing victories I have ever witnessed. You proved to be a Statesman throughout, and I only hope that our Parent Body will follow the statesmanlike example that you set in Omaha as we proceed to work together and in our methods of electing officers.

Please give my best regards to Mrs. [Lillie Belle] Maxwell. Tomorrow Mrs. King and I will be off to Mexico for a two-week vacation. When I am in New York I will call you.

Sincerely yours,
Martin Luther King, Jr.


1. Maxwell, pastor of Mount Olivet Baptist Church in New York, requested King’s support in a 7 June letter. Hilda Proctor replied for King on 11 June, indicating that he would be "most happy" to second the nomination and assuring Maxwell that King never "thought anyone else could so ably fill the office."

2. During an address to the Omaha convention King stressed that "the world does not allow this country the weakness of an anemic democracy." He also declared that "our ultimate aim is not desegregation from a legal aspect. We seek the kind of integration where men come together willingly, not because there is a law” (“Segregation Fighter Sees Success Ahead,” Omaha World Herald, 19 June 1958).

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

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