Martin Luther King, Jr. - Travels
King is the guest preacher at the Reverend Gardner Taylor’s Concord Baptist Church in Brooklyn.
On 5 December 1955, Lawrence Reddick attended the first mass meeting of the Montgomery bus boycott. Although he recalled feeling “baffled” by what was taking place, he did “realize that something socially significant was happening” and began to take copious notes (Reddick, 235). Throughout 1956 and 1957, as his notes materialized into a manuscript for a book, Reddick became friends with Martin Luther King, Jr., while conducting interviews with the bus boycott leader. In his biography of King, Crusader without Violence (1959), Reddick called King a “national asset,” claiming that King “symbolizes an idea that meets a fundamental need of our times. His way is needed in the painful transition through which the South is presently passing, and his way is needed by the American nation in a divided world” (Reddick, 233–234). For more than a decade, Reddick chronicled the events of the civil rights movement and assisted King in writing many of his public statements and speeches.
On 5 January 1956, one month after the start of the Montgomery bus boycott, New York–based In Friendship was formed to direct economic aid to the South’s growing civil rights struggle. Founded by Ella Baker, Stanley Levison, Bayard Rustin, and representatives from more than 25 religious, political, and labor groups, In Friendship sought to assist grassroots activists who were “suffering economic reprisals because of their fight against segregation” (In Friendship, 17 February 1956). During its three years of operation, the organization contributed thousands of dollars to support the work of Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA). In a letter to George Lawrence, chairman of In Friendship during the bus boycott, King stated, “We are very grateful to ‘In friendship’ for the interest that it has taken in our struggle” (Papers 3:408).
From the early days of the Montgomery bus boycott, Martin Luther King, Jr., referred to India's Mahatma Gandhi as “the guiding light of our technique of non-violent social change” (Papers 5:231). Following the success of the boycott in 1956, King contemplated traveling to India to deepen his understanding of Gandhian principles.
G. Ramachandran, a disciple of Mahatma Gandhi, served as the secretary of the Gandhi Smarak Nidhi (Gandhi National Memorial Fund), which co-sponsored Martin Luther King’s 1959 India trip. King thanked Ramachandran for his hospitality during his trip to India, writing that Ramachandran’s interpretations of Gandhi “left an indelible imprint on my thinking” (Papers 5:212).
On 30 January 1961, Dexter Scott King, the third child of Martin and Coretta Scott King, was born. He was named after the church where his father held his first pastorate.
The first prime minister of independent India, Jawaharlal Nehru was a follower of Mahatma Gandhi and had advocated for India’s release from British rule. Nehru’s political and social work helped create an independent India in 1947, and inspired Martin Luther King in his own struggle for the freedom of African Americans in the United States. During King’s 1959 India trip, which he called “one of the most concentrated and eye-opening experiences” of his life, he met with Nehru (Papers 5:232).
Bernard Lee, student leader of the Alabama sit-in movement, was Martin Luther King’s personal assistant and traveling companion throughout the 1960s. A member of King’s inner circle, Lee defended King from pushy reporters, shepherded him to engagements, provided a sounding board for new ideas, and readily joined in during spare moments of levity. King publicly commended Lee’s “devotion to civil rights” and made funding Lee’s travel expenses a prerequisite for accepting invitations (King, 63).
After meeting with Albert Lutuli in South Africa, Bryan, a professor at Wake Forest College, reports on the African National Congress (ANC) president's great esteem for Stride Toward Freedom: “He wished for copies to put into the hands of his African National Congress leaders.”1 King wrote Lutuli on 8 December.2
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.