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To W. E. B. Du Bois

King, Martin Luther, Jr. (Montgomery Improvement Association)
March 19, 1956
Montgomery, Ala.
Montgomery Bus Boycott


Earlier in March Du Bois had sent King the first stanza of the poem Battle Hymn, written by Gustavus Adolphus in 1630: “Fear not, O little fock the foe / That madly seeks thine overthrow / Dread not [h]is rage and power / What through thy courage sometime faints? / Its seeming power o'er God’s saints / Lasts but a little hour.” King may not have seen the verse; his office sent Du Bois this form letter of thanks.1

Dear Friends:

This is a note to express my deepest gratitude to you for your kind letter. Such letters from friends sympathetic with our momentous struggle for justice give us renewed vigor and courage to carry on.

With every good wish, I am

Cordially yours,
M. L. King, Jr.,


1. Du Bois to King, March 1956. William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (1868-1963), born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, earned his B.A. (1888) from Fisk University and his B.A. (1890), M.A. (1891), and Ph.D. (1895) from Harvard University. He taught at Wilberforce University (1894-1896), the University of Pennsylvania (1896-1897), and Atlanta University (1897-1910). A founder of the NAACP, Du Bois was the director of publications and the editor of The Crisis magazine from 1910 to 1934. He rejoined Atlanta University as head of its sociology department in 1933, returning briefly to the NAACP in 1944 to head the special research department (to 1948). Du Bois also served as editor of Phylon (1940-1944). In 1961 Du Bois joined the Communist Party and moved to Ghana to become editor in chief of Encyclopedia Africana. Du Bois contributed numerous articles to magazines and journals and authored many books on American race relations, most notably the classic Souls of Black Folk (1903).


WEBD-MU, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt) Du Bois Papers, 1956-1960, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Mass.