• Creator
  • Springfield College
  • Created Date
  • 1964-11-04
  • Description
  • This letter was written on November 4, 1964, to Glenn A. Olds by Martin Luther King, Jr. The letter expresses King's gratitude for Olds' warm message regarding the selection of King as the recipient of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize. In 1964, Springfield College shared a moment in history often overlooked by historians with honorary degree recipient and commencement speaker Martin Luther King Jr. Despite significant pressure from prominent shareho... more
    This letter was written on November 4, 1964, to Glenn A. Olds by Martin Luther King, Jr. The letter expresses King's gratitude for Olds' warm message regarding the selection of King as the recipient of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize. In 1964, Springfield College shared a moment in history often overlooked by historians with honorary degree recipient and commencement speaker Martin Luther King Jr. Despite significant pressure from prominent shareholders and benefactors of the College, college President Glenn A. Olds, a minister and conscientious objector during World War II, refused to waver from his decision to make Martin Luther King Commencement speaker for the 1964 Graduation ceremonies. When King was arrested the day before, Olds contacted law enforcement officials, telling them that if they continued to hold King, school officials would fly down to tape the commencement address, leaving St. Augustine to deal with the attendant publicity. Whether or not his intervention played a role, King was released on a nine hundred dollar bond Saturday afternoon. Met at the airport by Springfield College Economics Professor Robert Randolph, later the first black president of the Massachusetts State College System at Westfield State, King toured the campus, gave a press conference, and shared a brief luncheon with faculty and administration. On the day of commencement, Black Muslim protestors who felt King was too conciliatory and bomb-sniffing dogs greeted the graduating class. Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement, best known for his role in advancing civil rights through nonviolent civil disobedience. A national icon in the history of American progressivism, some of King’s achievements include leading the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott, helping to found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and serving as its first president. King's efforts led to the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his famous speech “I Have a Dream” and solidified his reputation as one of the greatest orators in American history. On October 14, 1964, King received the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolence. In years leading up to his death, he expanded his focus to include poverty and the Vietnam War—alienating many of his liberal allies with a 1967 speech titled "Beyond Vietnam". King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 and Congressional Gold Medal in 2004; Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was established as a U.S. federal holiday in 1986. Rev. Dr. Glenn A. Olds served as the eighth president of Springfield College from July 1, 1958 to September 1, 1965. The second youngest president in the College’s history, Olds lived a multifaceted life. A professional boxer, an ordained Methodist minister, and a conscientious objector, he worked his way through high school, college, and three graduate schools with honors and distinction – as a logger, ranch hand, park and forest ranger, professional boxer, dance band leader, dishwasher, and country preacher. Olds came to Springfield College from Cornell University, where he served as director of United Religious Work. Prior to Cornell, he taught philosophy and religion at Yale University, DePauw University, Northwestern University, and the University of Denver. He left Springfield College in 1965, to become executive dean of the State University of New York, responsible for developing a new international program for New York State’s system of colleges and universities. He later served as a special assistant for President Nixon, U.S. ambassador and representative to the United Nations Economic and Social Council, and president and professor at Kent State University and Alaska Pacific University. Olds passed away April 2006. There are two folds from the letter having been folded into thirds, but the document is otherwise in excellent condition. less
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