Martin Luther King
and the Montgomery Story
Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story
The Fellowship of Reconciliation
Nyack, New York, 1959
The Fellowship of Reconciliation was establshed informally in 1914 by Henry Hodgkin, an English Quaker and Friedrich Sigmund-Schultze, a German Lutheran, who were returning from a failed ecumenical conference in Switzerland hoping to prevent the outbreak of World War 1.
Hodgkin and Sigmund-Schultze pledged to find a way of working for peace even though their countries were now at war.
The FOR was founded formally in Cambridge England in December 1914, and the American organization in 1915.
The FOR has since become an interfaith and international movement with branches in over 40 countries on every continent.
Since its founding the FOR has worked internationally for peace and social justice. It helped organize the National Civil Liberties Bureau (which became the ACLU) as well as the first National Conference of Christians and Jews, as well as international pro-union and anti-war organization.
In the 1940s it worked against interrment of Americans of Japanese descent, and in Europe FOR members rescued Jews and political refugees from the Nazis. In America, they sponsored the first inter racial ‘freedom ride’ to challenge discrimination in interstate travel.
In the 1950s the FOR helped organize the American Committee on Africa to support African independence and conducted a six year program to help feed China during a time of famine.
Also in the 1950s the Fellowship worked with Martin Luther King Jr during the Montgomery bus boycott and held workshops on non-violence throughout the South. This comicbook was produced as part of that work
The comic is a standard format commercial job: 16 pages, paper covers and about 7 x 10 inches.
The book opens with a quick review of Dr. King’s early life as the son of a prominent Atlanta Pastor, where the Bible was the cornerstone of the family. King is shown as he grows and continues to let the Bible guide him as he finishes his education, marries and returns to the South in 1954.
The naration of the story then shifts to the first person account of a black Southern ‘Everyman’ who explains life under Jim Crow in quick and sanitised comicbook language before telling the story of Rosa Parks, whose refusal to surender her bus seat to a white led to the Montgomery bus boycott. The boycott was successful in keeping blacks off the buses and the Montgomery Improvement Association was created to work for fair treatment towards blacks. Reverend King was chosen as the organization’s leader. The movement for equality is shown to be based in the church, and non-violence and organization are shown to be the reasons for the success of the boycott in the face of violence, intimidation and the bombing of King’s house.
As it becomes obvious that the boycott will end the Improvement Association continues to organize non-violence workshops to effectively deal with the resentment and intimidation that will surely follow. Non-violence is shown to be a workable tool in the real world in the face of increasing violence, KKK marches, cross burnings and church bombings. Segragationist violence outrages the majority of white citizens, and the story closes with the black narrator confiding to the reader that he’s even thrown away his gun.
The second story is titled Martin Luther King Tells How A Nation Won Its Freedom By The Montgomery Method. This is a two page telling of Gandhi’s struggle against the British in India, told as a sermon or speech by Reverend King.
Next is a three page piece titled How The Montgomery Method Works. The foundation is that God loves us as individuals, and as individuals we must act on this love. We are told to remember that God loves our enemies as much as he loves us, and that we must never deny the humanity of any person. The commonality of all humans is stressed as are study, patience and reasoned discourse in the face of intimidation.
This is a beautiful book. It is well written and the art, by golden age great Dan Berry, is at the top of professional standards. There were 250,000 copies printed and another 125,000 in Spanish. They were used as teaching tools during the civil rights movement, and not many have survived. As of 2002 they were not noted in Overstreet. A net search turned up a couple in archives, friends have verified a couple of other copies, and there are doubtlessly a few more copies of this scarce book. Even rarer is the Spanish version, below
The book is long out of print, but color xerox copies can be obtained through the FOR bookstore:
There is a more thorough history of the Fellowship Of Reconciliation here:
There was a second comicbook biography of Dr. King, done by Golden Legacy Comics in the 1970s. There is an article on Golden Legacy comics which you can access through our Main Page below.
There is also a link to the Golden Legacy homepage with art samples and ordering information on our Links page.
All text copyright tom christopher
All art copyright Fellowship Of Reconciliation
All copyrights 2004
All rights reserved