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To Shelby Rooks

King, Martin Luther, Jr. (Montgomery Improvement Association)
May 8, 1956
Montgomery Bus Boycott


Rooks, pastor of St. James Presbyterian Church in Harlem, had asked King about the “extent of your personal responsibility for the proper distribution” of funds donated to the MIA. After receiving King’s response, Rooks sent $500 from his congregation.1

The Rev. Shelby Rooks
St. James Presbyterian Church
St. Nicholas Avenue at 141st Street
New York 31, New York

Dear Rev. Rooks:

This is to acknowledge receipt of your very kind letter of April 30, making inquiry concerning the present status of our situation.

Yes funds are still being received by the association. We still have tremendous financial obligations. Our operation expenses, including the car pool and the running of a well staffed office, run upwards of four thousand dollars ($4,000.00) per week. I can assure you that the money is being properly handled. The finance committee of the Montgomery Improvement Association is composed of some of the finest and most respected citizens of Montgomery. So you can rest assured that whatever contribution you make to our struggle will be properly distributed.

Let me express my personal appreciation to you for your interest in our cause. Such moral support from friends sympathetic with our struggle give us renewed vigor and courage to carry on. Although I have never met you personally, I have long known of the very fine job that you are doing in New York City. You have my prayers and best wishes for continued success in your pastorate.

Yours sincerely,
M. L. King, Jr.,


1. Rooks to King, 30 April and 8 June 1956. Shelby Rooks (1905-), born in North Carolina, earned his B.A. in 1928 from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, where he remained to teach English (1929-1931). He earned an M.Div. in 1934 from Union Seminary in New York. That year Rooks became pastor at the Nazarene Congregational Church in Brooklyn. He moved to St. James Presbyterian Church in 1943, serving as pastor there until 1976.


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