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To Ralph Abernathy

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Author: King, Martin Luther, Jr. (Dexter Avenue Baptist Church)

Date: November 24, 1954

Location: Montgomery, Ala.?

Genre: Letter

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


King sent variations of this letter to Abernathy and other participants in his installation ceremony. King thanks his good friend Abernathy, pastor of First Baptist Church, for supporting his installation, even though Abernathy could not attend. The other recipients were T. M. Alexander, M. C. Cleveland, H. H. Johnson, B. D. Lambert, Joseph C. Parker, Sr., W. J . Powell, and G. Franklin Lewis.1 At the ceremony Parker introduced the speaker, King, Sr.; Alexander provided the Charge to the Church; Cleveland presided over the Charge to the Minister; Johnson delivered the welcome from the community churches; Lambert led the Prayer of Installation; and Powell gave the Scripture reading. Abernathy and Lewis sent greetings in the official program.

The Reverend Ralph D. Abernathy
1327 South Hall Street
Montgomery, Alabama

Dear Ralph,

This is just a note to express my appreciation to you for the big part which you played in making my recent Installation a real success. Words cannot adequately express my deep gratitude to you.

Although you could not be present, your encouragement and financial contribution were appreciated beyond expression.

I intended writing you long before now, but as you know, I was absent from the city for more than two weeks which prevented my doing so.2

With every good wish, I am

Sincerely yours,
M. L. King, Jr.


1. See letters to T. M. Alexander, M. C. Cleveland, H. H. Johnson, B. D. Lambert, Joseph C. Parker, Sr., W. J. Powell, and G. Franklin Lewis; all dated 24 November 1954, in MLKP-MBU. Alexander was an Atlanta investment broker, chair of the board of directors of the Butler Street YMCA, trustee of Morehouse College, and a former member of Dexter. The other six men were pastors in Montgomery: Cleveland, of Day Street Baptist Church; Johnson, of Hutchinson Street Baptist Church; Lambert, of Maggie Street Baptist Church; Parker, of Hall Street Baptist Church; Powell, of Old Ship AME Zion Church; and Lewis, of First Congregational Church.

2. King traveled to Boston immediately after his installation as pastor at Dexter.

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

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