DescriptionMartin Luther King Jr.'s Rocking Chair. "This is our hope of a future, and with this faith we will be able to sing in some not too distant tomorrow with a cosmic past tense, 'We have overcome, we have overcome, deep in my heart I did believe we would overcome." -- Martin Luther King Jr., "Where Do We Go from Here", Atlanta, August 16, 1967.
Occasionally an item will come to Heritage Galleries that is not only an honor to present, but which virtually sends chills up the spine with its provenance, significance and inspirational association.
Such a piece is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Lincoln rocking chair -- a relic that is representative of American history and brotherhood. We are offering the chair Dr. King enjoyed extensively, particularly while writing his seminal 1967 book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?
The back-story concerns the literary partnership of Dr. King and Ms. Hermine Isaacs Popper, a critic, short story writer and editor for Harper and Brothers. Ms. Popper was hired in early 1958 to edit Stride Toward Freedom, King's account of the Montgomery bus boycott. Her editorial contribution to this book resulted in her ultimately becoming King's personal editor, and Ms. Popper later expressed to King that her primary work with him was "to convert, as it were, an expert orator's style into a writer's style."
The chair was purchased for Dr. King to use while working on his writings in Popper's White Plains, NY cabin. As John E. Popper, Ms. Popper's nephew, explains:
"Hermine Popper edited Martin Luther King's writings, including Why We Can't Wait (1963-1964) and Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? (1967). She and my Uncle Robert lived at 240 Rosedale Avenue in White Plains, New York. King would come to their house and work on his books. There was a little cabin on the property that afforded them both privacy... Hermine asked if we could buy a rocking chair as Dr. King requested one for their work. We found the rocker and thought what could be more fitting than to buy a Lincoln rocker? We bought it in late 1966 in an antique store in or around Greenfield, Massachusetts... Everyone involved loved the chair and Dr. King spent many productive hours rocking in it as he worked on his manuscripts."
Dr. King wrote in Why We Can't Wait, "I acknowledge with affection and gratitude the help of Hermine I. Popper, whose perception and intelligence enabled her to do a constructive and important editorial job." In Where do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?, he wrote, "A special note of thanks is due Hermine I. Popper, whose editorial skills and warm spirit of cooperation contributed greatly toward the completion of this book."
On April 4, 1968, the day following his "I've Been to the Mountain Top" speech in Memphis, Martin Luther King was assassinated at age 39. Hermine Popper died of cancer only seven months later, on November 18, 1968 in White Plains, at the age of 53.
It's almost overwhelming to regard this cane-seat chair and imagine Dr. King enjoying it (he, like President Kennedy, suffered from a bad back), relaxing in the cabin hideaway (demolished in 2006, the property slated for five new homes), pondering the profound beliefs he presented in his writings, discussing them with his dynamic editor, ultimately committing them to paper and posterity. The chair measures 36" tall with a 20" wide seat and 33" rockers, and is in Excellent condition. Also included is a first edition of Where Do We Go From Here: Community or Chaos? accompanied by a card reading "With compliments from the author". The book was the last to be published by King during his lifetime.
Heritage is proud and honored to offer the Martin Luther King, Jr. Lincoln rocking chair -- a reminder of one of history's greatest humanitarians who truly touched the world's consciousness. Requires third party shipping.
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