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From Ralph J. Bunche

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Author: Bunche, Ralph J. (Ralph Johnson)

Date: February 22, 1956

Location: Kew Gardens, N. Y.

Genre: Letter


This telegram of support is the first known communication to King from the prominent African-American diplomat and winner of the 1950 Nobel Peace Prize.1

reverend m l king jr 
309 south jackson str montgomery ala

i greet you as a fellow american and a fellow negro stop you and our fellow negro citizens of montgomery are doing heroic work in the vineyards of democracy stop your patient determination your wisdom and quiet courage are constituting an inspiring chapter in the history of human dignity stop you have steadfastly refused to barter away your dignity and may god bless you for that stop you are good americans and you are acting in the spirit of the finest american tradition and in the best interests of our country you may be confident that in the end justice and decency will prevail stop i greatly admire and warmly congratulate you all i know that you will continue strong in spirit and that you will stand firm and united in the face of threats and resorts to police state methods of intimidation stop right is on your side and all the world knows it stop

ralph j bunche

1. Ralph Johnson Bunche (1904-1971), born in Detroit, Michigan, earned his B.A. (1927) from the University of California, Los Angeles, and his M.A. (1928) and Ph.D. (1934) from Harvard University. While teaching at Howard University (1929-1950), Bunche assisted Swedish sociologist Gunnar Myrdal in writing An American Dilemma (1944), a study of the United States’ black and white race relations. During World War II Bunche became a War Department analyst of African and Far Eastern affairs; by 1944 he headed the State Department's Division of Dependent Area Affairs. That same year he composed the trusteeship sections of the United Nations Charter. In 1947 Bunche joined the UN Secretariat, where he developed the guidelines under which many territories gained nationhood. In 1950 Bunche became the first African-American Nobel Peace Prize winner after heading a UN peace-seeking commission that negotiated a 1949 armistice between the new state of Israel and the Arab nations. Bunche continued to direct UN peace-keeping efforts until just before his death in 1971.

Source: MLKP, MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University, Boston, Mass., Box 14.

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