Replying to Randolph’s 7 May letter about the Madison Square Garden rally scheduled for 24 May, King apologizes for the “mixup.” He agrees to do his “very best to be present for this momentous occasion” and to send a representative if he is unable to attend. King was in Montgomery on the day of the rally, presiding at an MIA executive board meeting. The crowd of sixteen to twenty thousand at the New York rally gave a standing ovation to Rosa Parks and E. D. Nixon and heard speeches from Randolph, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., Eleanor Roosevelt, Autherine Lucy, Roy Wilkins, and Rabbi Israel Goldstein, president of the American Jewish Congress.
Mr. A. Philip Randolph
City-Wide Chairman Committee
Madison Square Garden Civil Rights Rally
217 West 125th Street
New York 27, New York
Dear Mr. Randolph:
This is to acknowledge receipt of your letter of May 7. Absence from the city has delayed my reply.
I am very sorry that the mixup in my coming to New York has arisen. As I said to Bayard Rustin a few days ago and later said to Mr. McLaurin through a letter, the pressure of the situation here plus an extremely busy schedule made it impossible for me to accept the invitation. However, I can understand the difficulties which you are confronting. I know it will be almost impossible and certainly confusing to attempt to recall the promotional literature at this point. Since this is the case I would suggest that you continue with your publicity, and I will do my very best to be present for this momentous occasion. If at the last minute, I find that I cannot come I am sure that I can send a representative in my place. This is about the best I can say at this point. I hope it meets your approval.
Please know that I am deeply in accord with what you and the very fine citizens of New York are doing in our behalf. I have always felt that the problems of the South are bigger than the South and that we need the concerted efforts of the whole nation to revolt against the evils of injustice which are so rampant in our society. It is such persons as you that give us grim and bold determination to keep going in our struggle for first class citizenship. We will long remember your coming to our aid in this great struggle for justice.
With every good wish, I am
M. L. King, Jr.,
MLKP-MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University, Boston, Mass.