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Young, Andrew

Andrew Young’s work as a pastor, administrator, and voting rights advocate led him to join Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in the civil rights struggle. Young, who entered electoral politics shortly after King’s assassination, credited King with giving “purpose and sustenance” to his life (Young, 474). “He left his mark on me, both in indelible memories and in the spiritual and practical lessons of our trials and triumphs,” Young recalled. “It is by the quality of those days that I have come to measure my own continuing journey” (Young, 474).

Smith, Kelly Miller

As a social gospel minister, Kelly Miller Smith believed in using his pastorate to promote activism. Smith participated in the founding meeting of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1957, and co-founded the Nashville Christian Leadership Council (NCLC) a year later. In a 1961 telegram Smith described Martin Luther King as the “embodiment of the message you bear” (Smith, 19 December 1961).

Thurman, Howard

During his tenure as dean of Marsh Chapel at Boston University, theologian and minister Howard Thurman sent Martin Luther King, Jr., and Coretta Scott King his 1955 volume on spirituals, Deep River. He inscribed the book: “To the Kings—The test of life is often found in the amount of pain we can absorb without spoiling our joy” (Papers 6:299).” Thurman’s commitment to a spiritually and physically integrated society, and to the methods of Gandhian nonviolence, served as major influences in King’s life.


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