I have the best mother in the world

Few people have fought harder for the plight of African-Americans than Martin Luther King Jr., a minister and activist who spent most of his all-too-brief life leading the civil rights movement only to be stopped by a bullet in Memphis in 1968. He was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on 15 January 1929, as Michael King Jr., and it would be five years until his father, Reverend Michael King Sr., changed both their forenames to Martin. King Jr. adored his mother, Alberta, and in 1948, during his first term at Crozer Theological Seminary in Upland, Pennsylvania, he wrote her this letter and let her know. Tragically, six years after the death of her son, as she sat at the organ in church, Alberta was assassinated by a man claiming to be on a mission from God.

(Click here to join the thousands of people who regularly receive the Letters of Note newsletter. This particular letter can also be found in the book, Letters of Note: Mothers, reprinted by arrangement with The Heirs to the Estate of Martin Luther King Jr. Photo: Martin Luther King in 1964, by Marion Trikosko.)

The Letter

[October 1948]

Dear Mother,

Your letter was received this morning. I often tell the boys around the campus I have the best mother in the world. You will never know how I appreciate the many kind things you and daddy are doing for me. So far I have gotten the money (5 dollars) every week.

As to my wanting some clippings from the newspapers, I must answer yes. I wondered why you hadn’t sent many, especially the Atlanta world.

You stated that my letters aren’t newsey enough. Well I dont have much news. I never go anywhere much but in these books. Some times the professor comes in class and tells us to read our [strikeout illegible] assignments in Hebrew, and that is really hard.

Do you know the girl I used to date at Spelman (Gloria Royster). She is in school at Temple and I have been to see her twice. Also I met a fine chick in Phila who has gone wild over the old boy. Since Barbor told the members of his church that my family was rich, the girls are running me down. Of course, I dont ever think about them I am to busy studying.

I eat dinner at Barbors home quite often. He is full of fun, and he has one of the best minds of anybody I have ever met.

I haven’t had time to contact any of your friends up this way. Maybe I will get to it pretty soon.

I hope you will explain to the members why I haven’t written any of them. I am going to write a letter to the entire church next week. It should be there by the forth [first] Sunday.

I hear from Christine [King’s sister] every week. I try to answer her as regularly as possible. I hope she will somehow get adjusted to that accounting.

Rev. Ray was here Friday at the state convention. He told me to come up anytime I get ready. He is looking for you and dad in November.

Well I guess I must go back to studying. Give everybody my Regards.

Your son