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From S. Paul Schilling

Schilling, S. Paul (Sylvester Paul) (Boston University)
March 4, 1956
Boston, Mass.
Montgomery Bus Boycott


Schilling, professor of systematic theology at Boston University and second reader of King’s doctoral dissertation, responds to news accounts of the bus boycott movement. “I thank God for what you are doing,” he writes, “and the emphasis you are laying on Christian love.”

Dear Martin Luther,

Ever since first learning of your courageous leadership in the cause of justice in Montgomery I have been wanting to write. Only the annual pressure—greater this year because of the absence of Dr. DeWolf on sabbatical leave in Southern Rhodesia—of reading and evaluating dissertations has prevented my writing earlier.1 (I have seven dissertations to evaluate, and from your experience with one you will know that that can’t be done in five minutes!)

It is hard for some of us to realize how tense the situation is becoming in some areas. Yet the sheer complexity and tenseness of it makes me all the more grateful for the quality of the contribution you are rendering. The AP dispatches have quoted you on several occasions, and every time I read such statements I thank God for what you are doing and the emphasis you are laying on Christian love, extending even to those who are opposing you with such an absence of love.

Please know that multitudes of us here are with you heart and soul in your struggle. We deeply regret that the things which you must do as a conscientious Christian and minister are bringing so much suffering upon you, yet know that you are finding spiritual resources which are more than equal to your need. You don’t need me to tell you that in enduring arrest in a cause like yours you are joining the ranks of some of the greatest persons of all time. That number which appears so boldly across your chest in the picture in LIFE is a badge of honor.2

May God strengthen and sustain you in your efforts for both fair treatment and equal, unsegregated opportunity and the maintenance of order and sanity on both sides in the midst of the struggle. Sooner or later, victory is sure.

You are much in my thoughts and prayers in these trying days. Are there further concrete ways in which friends here can help?

Most cordially,
[signed] S. Paul Schilling

1. L. Harold DeWolf was King’s advisor at Boston University and first reader of his dissertation.

2. “A Bold Boycott Goes On,” Life, 5 March 1956, pp. 40-43; see photograph following p. 33 in this volume.


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