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Martin Luther King, Jr. - Travels

Reddick, Lawrence Dunbar

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.

In Friendship

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).

Nehru, Jawaharlal

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).

Lee, Bernard Scott

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).


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