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To Tom Mboya

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Author: King, Martin Luther, Jr.

Date: July 8, 1959

Location: Montgomery, Ala.?

Genre: Letter

Topic: Martin Luther King, Jr. - Political and Social Views


On 16 June, shortly after attending an SCLC-sponsored "Africa Freedom Dinner," Kenyan nationalist leader Mboya wrote King requesting financial assistance for a Kenyan student who was to enter Tuskegee Institute in the fall.1

Tom Mboya, [M.?]L.C.
P.O. Box 10818
Nairobi, Kenya

Dear Tom Mboya:

I am in receipt of your very kind letter of recent date thanking the leaders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference for the dinner in your honor. I should have written you before you wrote me to thank you for giving us the opportunity to honor ourselves in bringing you to Atlanta. Because of your distinguished career and dedicated work, the honor was ours and not yours. I will long remember the moments that we spent together. I am sure that you could sense from the response that you gained all over the United States that your visit here made a tremendous impact on the life of our nation. Your sense of purpose, your dedicated spirit, and your profound and eloquent statement of ideas all conjoin to make your contribution to our country one that will not soon be forgotten.

Thank you for your very kind comments concerning my book, Stride Toward Freedom.2 This book is simply my humble attempt to bring moral and ethical principles to bare on the difficult problem of racial injustice which confronts our nation. I am happy to know that you found it helpful. I am absolutely convinced that there is no basic difference between colonialism and segregation. They are both based on a contempt for life, and a tragic doctrine of white supremacy. So our struggles are not only similiar; they are in a real sense one.

I am happy to know that you will have a student enrolled in Tuskegee Institute in the next few months. I will be happy to make some move in the direction of assisting this student. Please give me some idea of the amount of money that he will need over and above the aid that he will get from Tuskegee Institute itself.3 Also let me know whether the money should be sent directly to you or given to him in person.

With warm personal regards, I am,

Sincerely yours,
Martin L. King, Jr.


1. See King, Remarks Delivered at Africa Freedom Dinner at Atlanta University, 13 May 1959, pp. 203-204 in this volume.

2. Mboya had written that he had never found himself "so completely captured by a book and ideas" (Mboya to King, 16 June 1959).

3. In a 31 July reply, Mboya indicated that the student would need $1,000. King arranged for Dexter Church and SCLC to support Nicholas W. Raballa, who was among an initial group of eighty-one Kenyan students flown to the United States on 7 September 1959 under a program organized by Mboya. More than one thousand Kenyan students would eventually take part in the "airlifts" to the United States (S. F. Yette, "M. L. King Supports African Student," News of Tuskegee Institute, December 1959; see also King to Raballa, 11 January 1960, and photograph of King and Raballa, p. 87 in this volume).

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

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