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To William H. Gray, Jr.

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Author: King, Martin Luther, Jr.

Date: April 6, 1960

Location: Atlanta, Ga.?

Genre: Letter

Topic: Student movements


On 24 March Gray, pastor of Philadelphia's Bright Hope Baptist Church, mailed King a New York Timesarticle about protests on northern campuses that highlighted the role of Gray's daughter Marian, a student at Vassar College. Gray chided King for being a "bad influence" on his daughter and warned: "If you don't watch out, my daughter will put you and me off of the front page, and I am just waiting until your daughter gets two years older and she will probably be running for president." 1 In his reply below, King predicts that the student protesters "will knock some of the oldsters out of their state of apathy and complacency."

Dr. William H. Gray, Jr.
Bright Hope Baptist Church
Twelfth and Oxford Streets
Philadelphia 22, Pennsylvania

Dear Bill:

I read of the courageous activities of your daughter in the New York Times before you sent the article to me. When I read it my heart was throbbing with joy. You see my friend that is that old fighting spirit in you coming out anew. Be sure to tell Marian that when she gets ready to run for President of the United States I will be on hand to make the nominating speech.2 In all seriousness, I think she is to be highly commended. The students of our generation have now come of age, and they are manifesting a maturity far beyond their years. The most significant aspect of this student movement is that the young people will knock some of the oldsters out of their state of apathy and complacency.

I look forward to seeing you soon. I plan to be in Washington in about two weeks, and I will be sure to call you. It was good seeing you in New York.3

Very sincerely yours,
Martin L. King, Jr.


1. McCandlish Phillips, "Campuses in North Back Southern Negro Students," New York Times, 20 March 1960. King first met Gray in 1949 while King was studying at Crozer Theological Seminary; Gray later helped raise funds for the Montgomery bus boycott (see Gray to Martin Luther King, Sr., 8 October 1949, in Papers 1:210, and Gray to King, 29 February 1956). King's daughter Yolanda Denise was born on 17 November 1955.

2. Marian Gray Secundy (1938-), born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, received an A.B. (1960) from Vassar College, an M.S.S. (1962) from Bryn Mawr College, and a Ph.D. (1980) from the Union Institute. She served as associate director, then director, of the American Friends Service Committee from 1965 until 1967. In 1971 she became the first African American elected to Vassar's board of trustees.

3. In a second letter from 24 March, Gray mentioned meeting with King and Gardner C. Taylor on "Monday," which probably refers to 21 March.

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

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