While attending Virginia Union University in 1953, Walter Fauntroy was asked by Wyatt Tee Walker to make a room available for Martin Luther King, who was traveling from Atlanta to Boston to attend graduate school. Several years after their meeting, Fauntroy recalled the “lasting effect” of King’s visit, particularly the impact of two sermons that King had shared with him. “When first I heard your name mentioned in connection with the Montgomery boycott, I thanked God that He had placed in that crisis the man with the message for our time,” Fauntroy wrote to King in June 1960 (Papers 5:470).
As co-founder of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), James Farmer was one of the major leaders of the African American freedom struggle. In a 1997 interview, Farmer said: “I don’t see any future for the nation without integration. Our lives are intertwined, our work is intertwined, our education is intertwined” (Smith, “Civil Rights Leader”). Farmer credited Martin Luther King and the Montgomery bus boycott with educating the public on nonviolent tactics: “No longer did we have to explain nonviolence to people. Thanks to Martin Luther King, it was a household word” (Farmer, 188).
An influential Chicago minister and politician, Archibald Carey maintained a close relationship with Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1957 Carey visited the King home while participating in the Montgomery Improvement Association’s (MIA) annual Institute on Nonviolence and Social Change.
I planned to use for the textual basis for our thinking together that passage from the prologue of the book of Job where Satan is pictured as asking God, "Does Job serve thee for nought?" And I’d like to ask you to allow me to hold that sermon ["Why Serve God?"] in abeyance and preach it the next time I am in the pulpit in order to share with you some other ideas.
In his iconic speech at the Lincoln Memorial for the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, King urged America to "make real the promises of democracy." King synthesized portions of his earlier speeches to capture both the necessity for change and the potential for hope in American society.
I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation. [applause]