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From Thelma Austin Rice

Rice, Thelma Austin (Dexter Avenue Baptist Church (Montgomery, Ala.))
March 18, 1956
Montgomery, Ala.
Martin Luther King, Jr. - Career in Ministry
Montgomery Bus Boycott


As King awaited trial, expressions of support came not only from around the country but from within his own congregation. As part of his reorganization of Dexter during his first months as pastor, King had asked parishioners to join one of twelve fundraising clubs according to their month of birth. Rice, president of the January Club, expresses concern for King and encloses a collection of poems and biblical quotations that members selected for him, entitled “Comforting Sense of Direction—Tidbits for Our Pastor and Club Member.” 1

TO: The Reverend M. L. King, Jr.
FROM: The January Club
ON: The Eve of the March 19th Trials

It comes a time in the life of each individual when he or she faces trying moments. At such times, it often happens that solace as well as sense of direction come through a spoken or unspoken word.

Realizing these circumstances, we, the members of the January Club share with you our favorite sources of comfort, hope and sense of direction, whether or not these sources are poems, quotes from the Bible, a printed prayer or words out of the creations of our own thinking. Whatever the case, these that we share have sustained and offered us a sense of direction, and we share them with you that you may find in them a spark to comfort and sustain you as you face a trial situation made by man and all that such an experience could mean.

We are joined in this bond of expression of our concern for you.

Very sincerely yours,
Thelma Austin Rice, President

Enclosures: In alphabetical order of the members.

1. Thelma Austin Rice (1917- ) was born in Montgomery and earned her B.S. (1937) and M.Ed. (1946) from Alabama State College. Rice taught in Mobile public schools from 1937 to 1945 and then, from 1945 to 1952, at the Mobile campus of Alabama State. In 1945 she organized the Metropolitan Council of the National Council of Negro Women, serving as its president until 1952. She returned to Montgomery in 1954 to head Alabama State’s math department, where she remained until 1962. She was also an active member of the Women’s Political Council, the NAACP, the Business and Professional Women’s Club of Montgomery, and the Mobile Non-Partisan Voters League.


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