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From William Holmes Borders

Borders, William Holmes
December 19, 1956
Martin Luther King, Jr. - Career in Ministry


Pastor for two decades of Atlanta's Wheat Street Baptist Church, Borders had known King since childhood. He spoke at the MIA's Institute on Nonviolence and Social Change two weeks earlier.1

Rev. M. L. King, Jr.
Dexter Avenue Baptist Church
454 Dexter Avenue
Montgomery, Alabama

My dear Rev. King:

I received the annual report of your church. I read every line of the introductory experssions. I checked the outstanding events. I noted the number of outstanding speaking engagements. I scaned the financial record, the amount raised and spent. It is outstanding and wonderful.

It was kind of you to think of sending me a copy. May God continue to bless you that you may reach higher heights. Your future is unlimited. You have a Ph. D degree. You are beautifully married. You are humble. You are sweet. You have forty fruitful years before you. There is no position in any church, religious body, University and etc. which you could not fill. I have picked you for three outstanding positions in our race. I will be glad to risk my prophesy on that. May God bless you as you continue to grow.

Sincerely yours,
William Holmes Borders


1. William Holmes Borders (1905-1993), born in Macon, Georgia, earned his B.A. (1929) from Morehouse College, his B.D. (1932) from Garrett Theological Seminary, and his M.A. (1936) from Northwestern University. The following year he became pastor of Atlanta’s Wheat Street Baptist Church, a few blocks from Ebenezer. Under his leadership, which lasted until his retirement in 1988, the church developed a complex of businesses, housing, and nonprofit organizations. Borders was a  leader in many of Atlanta’s civil rights campaigns, including its bus desegregation protest in 1957.


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