Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Letter declining a speaking engagement in Italy. Letter Signed, "Martin L. King Jr.," to Professor Vincenzo Lapiccirella. One page, on Southern Christian Leadership Conference letterhead.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. replies to an invitation to speak in Italy on the coming 30 April: "My calendar reveals that I have an engagement in this country on the very dates of your meeting. Please know that I deeply regret my inability to accept your gracious invitation. It is my hope that my schedule will ease up soon, so that I can accept an invitation to visit Florence. With kindest regards and best wishes in the very significant work you are doing, I am sincerely yours."
The January 7th letter to which King is responding is currently part of the collections at the King Center in Atlanta, GA. Lapiccirella was an Italian cardiologist who was organizing an "unusual meeting of Cardiologist, Philosopher, Theologian, all of big world reputation under the patronage of the Mayor of Florence." He was hoping to explore his theory that heart disease was mainly caused by psychological and environmental factors, and hoped that "from a Thinker, as you are, can come a word to help also us Physician worried and often powerless to face the difficulties of our daily fight."
It is unsurprising that King turned down an invitation from an overseas stranger, particularly one so far removed from his usual concerns. Even if he had been tempted by a trip to Florence in the spring, however, he may have already booked a significant meeting for April 30th. On that date, he would make a joint announcement with John Lewis of plans for cooperation between SCLC and SNCC.
This is an amazing piece of American civil rights history, signed by Dr. King in the year the Voting Rights Act was passed.
One page. 11 x 8 1/2 inches. Very good condition. Mailing folds, minimal wear, faint paper clip mark in upper margin. With original typed and postmarked mailing envelope. Atlanta, GA, 14 January 1965.
Unframed with original envelope.