In this letter, King outlines six reasons for wanting to travel to Russia- a desire to visit one of the world’s “leadership centers” where decisions are made, a desire to investigate why Soviets, despite state sponsored atheism, were still religious,a desire to collaborate with Soviet Baptists. a desire to determine Soviet policy influences on people of color and a desire to examine Soviet attitudes towards non-violence. As one who attempts to adhere to a non- violent philosophy I am anxious to experience the reaction of Soviet officials and people to those of us who hold to the view that peace and justice are possible to the degree that the world uncompromisingly embraces the Judeo- Christian ideals.
Written less than two months after King survived an assassination attempt at a Harlem department store in September of 1958, which almost killed him. Had he coughed or sneezed after being stabbed, he would have died.