A SUPERB ASSOCIATION COPY: STRIDE TOWARD FREEDOM, MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.'S ACCOUNT OF THE MONTGOMERY BUS STRIKE, INSCRIBED BY HIM TO ALFONSO AND LUCY B. CAMPBELL, IMPORTANT ACTIVISTS IN THE BOYCOTT
KING Jr., Martin Luther. Stride Toward Freedom. The Montgomery Story. New York: Harper & Brothers, (1958). Octavo, original half black cloth, original dust jacket, second dust jacket supplied from another copy.
First edition, first printing, of Dr. King's first book, an account of the Montgomery bus strike, a superb association copy inscribed by the civil rights leader across the entire front free endpaper to local activists central to the success of the strike, "To: Mr. & Mrs. A. L. Campbell With best wishes and warm Personal Regards. Martin L. King Jr."
In his first book, King presents a full and personal account of the bus strike in Montgomery, Alabama. Sparked by Rosa Parks' refusal to give up her seat to a white man, it was the first successful large-scale application of non-violent resistance to segregation in the United States. Non-violence, King reflects, "recognizes that social change cannot come overnight. But it causes one to work as if it were a possibility the next morning." With eight pages of black-and-white photographs. First printing, with publisher's code "H-H" on copyright page, indicating that it was printed in August, 1958. Blockson 4119.
The recipients of this copy, Alfonso L. Campbell and his wife, Lucy B. Campbell, were prominent members of the Montgomery, Alabama-African American community and among the early organizers of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. When the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) was formed on December 5, 1955, Alfonso Campbell became co-chair of the MIA's Transportation Committee. The Committee played a critical role in the boycott's ultimate success by creating a vast carpool and taxi network in Montgomery to sustain the protest by circumventing the city's bus system. The MIA devised a network of over 40 pick-up and drop-off stations that shuttled virtually all 50,000 of the city's Black residents (more than one-third of the city's entire population) to and from their jobs, churches, schools, and everyday affairs, during the 13-month-long protest. With over a decade of experience as Supervisor of Transportation at Alabama State, Alfonso was instrumental in helping maintain the efficient operation of this complex transportation system, and helped map routes and secure automobiles, fuel, and maintenance, all in the face of harassment and violence from the city's police force and local white population, and at great personal risk to his job at Alabama State. During the long months when the boycott's success was uncertain, the MIA held weekly mass meetings and sermons—often led by Dr. King and First Baptist Church Pastor and Campbell family friend, Ralph Abernathy—to keep the African American community mobilized, which Alfonso and Lucy often attended. Following the Supreme Court ruling in Browder v. Gayle that ended segregation on public transportation, Dr. King officially ended the boycott on December 20, 1956. The following morning Alfonso rode on one of the first desegregated buses in Montgomery alongside Dr. King and other Black leaders in the community who had tirelessly worked to achieve their goal.
Alfonso and Lucy first met Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1954 when King gave his first sermon as the 20th Pastor of the prominent Dexter Avenue Baptist Church (which, although not the Campbell's home church, hand been connected to their family for generations, and which they often attended). At the time, King was a relatively unknown figure among Montgomery's Black community, and had only recently accepted the position as Pastor, while finishing his doctoral studies at Boston University. Once at Dexter Dr. King quickly sought ways to revitalize the church and make it more socially involved, such as encouraging members to register to vote and join the NAACP. The Campbells and their family were active and respected members of the Baptist community in and around Montgomery, and were drawn by news of the new, young, and energetic pastor. When the Montgomery Bus Boycott took shape in the winter of 1955, following the arrest of activist and Campbell family friend Rosa Parks, Alfonso and Lucy became some of its most active participants and among its early organizers who sought justice. They attended the first mass community meeting held at Holt Street Baptist Church on December 5, 1955 that created the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) to guide the boycott, and they elected Dr. King as its president. In the years following the boycott the Campbells remained friends with the King family, and long remained involved with the MIA.
Alfonso Leon Campbell, Sr. (1904-2002) graduated from Alabama State Teachers College (Alabama State University) in 1934, afterwards briefly teaching at the State Normal High School before becoming Supervisor of Transportation at his alma mater, ASU. He served in the Army during World War II where he participated in the D-Day invasion of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge, rose to the rank of Master Sergeant, and was decorated with four Bronze Stars. Following the war he returned to ASU where he met his wife, Lucy Barnes, who he married in 1946. Lucy Barnes Campbell (1920-2013) was a member of the first graduating class of North Carolina Central University's School of Library Science; she was working as a staff librarian at Alabama State when she met Alfonso in the 1940s. With Lucy Campbell's signed bookplate, and her autograph initials on the text block edges.
Book with wear to extremities. Original dust jacket in pieces, provided with this copy; a second first issue dust jacket, with light wear and in extremely good condition, has been supplied from another copy.