On 12 December Walker invited King to preach at his church and suggested several dates. He added, “I could not close this letter without saying to you what a great inspiration and symbol you have been to me personally and many others so similarly dedicated.”1 King thanks Walker for the hospitality during his visit to Petersburg in early October and regretfully notes that he is already scheduled for the dates in question.
The Rev. Wyatt Tee Walker, Minister
Gillfield Baptist Church
Thanks for your very kind letter of December 12. It was a real pleasure hearing from you. Actually, I had been planning to write you for several weeks, but I could not find your address anywhere. Proctor promised to give it to me when I was in Richmond in November, but I forgot to remind him of it before leaving. So I am more than happy to have your letter before me, as well as your address.
First, I must express my deepest appreciation to you and your charming wife for making my stay in Petersburg such a comfortable. It was a real pleasure being in your palatial home and meeting your many friends. The fellowship was one that I will long remember.
After checking my schedule, I find that all of the possiblities that you mentioned fall within periods that I have made previous commitments. I am sure that this sounds strange to you, but my calendar reveals that I have accepted almost as many engagements as my schedule will allow for the whole of 1957. Please know that my non-acceptance at this point is not due to a lack of interest, but to the acceptance of already long standing engagements.
It might be possible, however, for me to take out one Sunday when I am in that vicinity and come to Petersburg. If such is at all possible, I will notify you in the very near future.
I hope things are going well with you. I was deeply impressed with your church and the great work that you are doing. You have my prayers and best wishes for continued success.
i Give my regards to your lovely wife and also to your charming children. I will look forward to seeing you when I am at Union for the Week of Prayer.2
Very sincerely yours,
M. L. King, Jr.
1. Wyatt Tee Walker (1929-), born in Brockton, Massachusetts, received his B.S. (1950) and B.D. (1953) from Virginia Union University and his D.Min. (1975) from Colgate-Rochester Divinity School. While minister of Virginia’s Gillfield Baptist Church (1953-1960) Walker served as chairman of the local NAACP and director of the local CORE branch. He acted as SCLC’s executive director from 1960 to 1964. After serving as pastor of New York City’s Abyssinian Baptist Church for one year, Walker became pastor of Canaan Baptist Church of Christ in 1967. Walker also served as special assistant to New York governor Nelson Rockefeller.
2. King was scheduled to speak at Virginia Union University in February 1957.
MLKP-MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Boston University, Boston, Mass.