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To Walter R. McCall

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Author: King, Martin Luther, Jr.?

Date: July 9, 1958

Location: Montgomery, Ala.?

Genre: Letter

Topic: Martin Luther King, Jr. - Family

Montgomery Bus Boycott


On 25 June McCall asked King for a loan of $450 to buy a tractor to make improvements on a newly purchased property. In the following Ietter King declines his friend's request, citing financial difficulties. In August McCall replied, “I feel certain that if you could you would have” and notified King that he had bought the tractor before receiving his response.

The Rev. Walter Raleigh McCall
Providence Baptist Church
Larkin at Maher St., S.W.
Atlanta 14, Georgia

Dear Mac:

Your urgent letter was on my desk when I returned from an extensive lecture tour and I hasten to answer it.

It is always difficult when I find that cirstances over which I have no control make it necessary for me to have to tell a friend that I cannot help him. It just doesn’t seem right, in a way, not to be able to come to the rescue of a friend in time of great need. . . .as yours certainly is.

The honest fact is that I, myself, have gone way out over my head, not only in my personal life, but in the church and community in financial matters.

There have been demands made upon me, and I know you will understand this, because of the wide publicity given to me, that are almost mandatory in their execution and there are no funds available to me to expedite these matters.

Because of the wide publicity given the bus boycott, my mail is so heavy that it is impossible for even two secretaries to keep up with it, and to keep good public relations, not only for myself personally, but for Montgomery Improvement Association, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Dester Avenue Baptist Church, this mountain of correspondence must be taken care of, and since there is no appropriation for this, I must take care of it personally.

And so it goes, a greatly expanded program and no funds and no equipment to deal with it. A few months ago, I became so inundated with work that I found a secretary who came down from New York to help me out, but now I must dispense with her services as of the end of this month because I can no longer subsidize her salary from personal funds.1

Please, Mac, don’t think I am making an attempt to “cry on your shoulder”. I’m not. I only want you to know surface impressions are not always the actual condition, and were it not for the heavy financial obligation I have been forced into, I think you know that I would be more than glad to help.

Please give Coretta’s and my regards to Norma, and with best wishes and the best of luck on your new real estate venture, I am2

Cordially yours,


1. King refers to Hilda Proctor.

2. Norma was McCall’s wife.

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

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