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From Stewart Meacham

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Author: Meacham, Stewart (American Friends Service Committee)

Date: November 11, 1958

Location: Philadelphia, Pa.

Genre: Letter

Topic: Martin Luther King, Jr. - Travels


Meacham, of the American Friends Service Committee, confirms previous decisions regarding King's traveling companions and funding for his upcoming tour of India.1 On 3 February 1959, King left for India accompanied by Coretta King and Lawrence Reddick.

Dr. Martin L. King,
Dexter Avenue Baptist Church,
Montgomery, Alabama.

Dear Dr. King:

This is to confirm our telephone conversation of to-day and last Friday during which is was agreed that:

1. We will negotiate with Dr. Stuart Nelson and with Howard University and if Dr. Nelson is available we will enlist his help as our representative to accompany you and Mrs. King while you are in India.2

2. You may decide to bring with you a personal associate (Prof. Reddich's name has been mentioned) in which case all expenses connected with the personal associate will be met out of funds other than those provided by or through the American Friends Service Committee. We shall have no financial responsibilities so far as the travel or maintenance of the personal associate is concerned either within India or in travel to and from India.

3. We estimate that a budget of $5500 will be sufficient to meet the costs of travel and maintenance for you and Mrs. King and for Stuart Nelson in India. Of this sum $5000 is now available, $4000 having been provided by a foundation grant and $1000 having been allocated by the A.F.S.C.3 It is desirable that the remaining $500 be sought from the Negro community as a token of its interest and support of this effort to establish identification, understanding and mutuality of effort and aspiration between the non-violent independence movement in India and the non-violent liberation movement in the United States. This desire and this concern will be shared with persons and organizations within the Negro community who may welcome an opportunity to participate.

4. In developing your schedule we shall try to protect you from excessive schedule burdens, though we all realize that it will not be possible to guarantee that there will not be times when the trip may be rather strenuous. Indeed it would be unwise to undertake such a trip unless one were prepared for a degree of energy consuming experiences. The actual schedule will be developed with these considerations in mind and with full consultation with you and Bayard Rustin. We understand that you will seek further medical advice in a few weeks in the light of these considerations.

It is a great joy to us to have the privilege of working on this project. We believe that it will be a source of deep satisfaction both to you and to us, and to India as well.

I do hope that you will be able to include Philadelphia on your schedule the next time you are coming this way. There are several people here who would welcome the opportunity of discussing the trip with you in some detail and of meeting you personally.

Please give my regards to Mrs. King.

Sincerely yours,
Stewart Meacham

cc: Bayard Rustin

1. James Stewart Meacham (1910-1985), born in Birmingham, Alabama, earned his B.A. (1931) from Davidson College and his M.Div. (1934) from Union Theological Seminary before returning to Birmingham to serve as a Presbyterian minister. Meacham worked for the National Labor Relations Board (1937-1946) and later the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union. Meacham spent two years in India as a Methodist missionary (1952-1954) and in 1957 joined the AFSC as Director of the Labor International Affairs program. Becoming AFSC's national peace secretary in 1960, Meacham also served as co-chair of the New Mobilization Committee and headed AFSC's Peace Education Division for eleven years.

2. William Stuart Nelson had written King on 24 July that he would "consider it a privilege to do anything possible to contribute to the success of your visit." King replied appreciatively on 18 August; however, by the time King's party arrived in India, Nelson had already left the country (Nelson to King, 10 April 1959).

3. Meacham refers to the Christopher Reynolds Foundation, which in early 1957 pledged $4,000 toward King's trip to India. After King postponed the trip several times due to work schedule and health problems, the foundation agreed to extend the grant through 1959 "so that there will be no pressure on your part to leave before you feel ready to do so" (see King to Reynolds Foundation, 7 March 1958, and Reynolds Foundation to King, 16 June 1958).

Source: MLKP-MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Boston University, Boston, Mass.

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