At a press conference in his hospital room—his first public appearance since being stabbed ten days earlier—King gave a short statement to reporters.1 Later that day he issued this announcement. King was released from Harlem Hospital on 3 October and convalesced at the home of family friend Sandy Ray in Brooklyn until 24 October, when he returned to Montgomery.
“I am sorry that I have not been able to accomodate the many newsmen who have expressed a desire to have some word from me earlier.
“First let me say that I feel no ill-will toward Mrs. Izola Curry and know that thoughtful people will do all in their power to see that she gets the help she apparently needs if she is to become a free and constructive member of society.
“To Dr. Aubre Maynard, his associates and the splendid hospital staff, I am unable to say enough in expressing my gratitude. To the Governor of New York State, Mr. Averell Harriman, and the many other officials, religious leaders and other organizational representives, I want to offer special thanks. I also wish to express my heartfelt appreciation to the thousands of people of all faiths and races, in all walks of life, who have indicated by telegrams, letters, calls, cards, flowers and other gifts their warm concern for my well being. These messages were a great source of strength and support, because I know they were a token of respect for the Cause we all cherish—freedom and equality for all men.
“The pathetic aspect of this experience is not the injury to one individual. It demonstrates that a climate of hatred and bitterness so permeates areas of our nation that inevitably deeds of extreme violence must erupt. Today it is I. Tomorrow it could be another leader or any man, woman or child who will be the victim of lawlessness and brutality.
“I hope that this experience proves to be socially constructive by demonstrating the urgent necessity for non-violence to govern the affairs of men.
“Through these days, I have been increasingly able to understand more deeply the hard blows and tragic suffering so many of my people and other members of minority groups experience—all too often, and without cause or reason. The experience of these last few days has deepened my faith in the revelence of the spirit of non-violence, if necessary social change is peacefully to take place. Through experience I have now come to see more clearly the redemptive power of non-violence.
“I have been brought to see its wider social significance. I am now convinced that if the Negro holds fast to the spirit of non-violence, our struggle and example will challenge and help redeem, not only America but the world.
“Finally, although my thoughts have never left the Freedom struggle, I am intensely impatient to rejoin my friends and colleagues to continue the work that we all know must be done regardless of the cost.”
1. King, Statement at Harlem Hospital on assassination attempt by Izola Curry (video), 30 September 1958.
MLKP, MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University, Boston, Mass.