Martin Luther King's Dexter Avenue address notecards realise $31,500

A set of eight circa 1960 cards outlining Dr Martin Luther King's Dexter Avenue Church farewell address achieved $31,250 at Heritage Auctions' New York sale of an archive pertaining to the civil rights leader.

Dr King gave the speech as he prepared to leave Montgomery, Alabama, scene of the famous bus boycott, for Atlanta to lead the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

MLK Dexter Avenue
The notecards are handwritten by King

The archive was consigned by Maude Ballou, King's secretary from 1955-1960, who is personally thanked in the speech for working "long and difficult hours when I needed her most".

Maude's son, Howard Ballou, explained the reason for the sale. "These are treasures from my mom's years at the beginning of the civil rights movement," he said.

"My mother has finally decided that, after half a century safeguarding this material, and Dr. King's legacy, she wants to share these items with the public. It's time for them to be appreciated by others as much as we've appreciated them."

Two letters sent by King to Ballou from India, one from Bangalore and another from Bombay, also sold, achieving $18,750 and $17,000, respectively.

King travelled there in 1959 to study Gandhi's philosophy of non-violent resistance.

Two autographed draft chapters from Strike for Freedom, his autobiography, sold as separate lots - both achieving $8,125.

Sandra Palomino, director of historical manuscripts at Heritage Auctions, commented prior to the auction: "The Ballou material provides a ground-level perspective of the civil rights struggle.  

"The collection brings to light the courage and strength of all its participants. This material, available for the very first time, is unprecedented and illustrates the role of the church and the Reverend King's leadership."

We have this programme signed by Martin Luther King for sale.

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