In January we released thousands of documents to our digital archive. The Berman family wrote to share with us a letter they had received from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Following is the story of that letter as written by Charlotte "Blu" Berman, a current resident of West Hartford, CT.
On September 20, 1958, a twenty nine year old Martin Luther King Jr. was signing copies of his new book, “Stride Toward Freedom” in Blumstein’s department store in Harlem. He had just begun when a mentally disturbed black woman, Izola Ware Curry, approached him from the line and lunged at him with a seven-inch steel letter opener.
She drove the blade into his upper left side of his chest.
Dr. King was rushed to Harlem Hospital where he underwent more than two hours of surgery to repair the wound. The doctors stated that Dr. King had been very close to death.
Back in Hartford, Connecticut, a young man, Benton Berman, always interested in the Civil Rights movement and specifically Dr. King, was deeply affected by the news of the harrowing incident. It prompted him to send the Reverend King a letter of support, in which he enclosed a check for twenty dollars “for the cause.”
Mr. Berman was absolutely amazed and delighted, to receive a personal letter just nineteen days later from Dr. King expressing his deep appreciation for his support. In the letter, Dr. King assures Mr. Berman that he was “making good progress, and was well on the road to complete recovery”.
He goes on to express his gratitude and asks my husband Benton, for his continued prayers and good wishes, “as I rejoin the ranks of those who are working tirelessly and ceaselessly for the realization of the ideals of Freedom, Brotherhood and Human Dignity”.
The letter from Dr. King is treasured by our family. It speaks to the high ethical values of my late husband, who was also a dedicated father and grandfather as was Dr. King.