Today marks 50 years since Martin Luther King Jr. was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on October 14, 1964. At 35 years old, he was the youngest winner of the prize since it was first awarded in 1901. Searching in our archives, we found an “Editorial Comment” on King’s win in the November 1, 1964 issue of Friends Journal, published shortly after he was awarded the prize:
That Rare Delight: Good News
From such gloomy reflections it is pleasant to be able to turn to the most heartening piece of news of recent months—the announcement that Martin Luther King, Jr., our generation’s leading exponent of the doctrine of nonviolence, has been chosen to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. On hearing of King’s selection, the former Birmingham (Ala.) police commissioner who has used fire hoses and police dogs to disperse nonviolent Negro demonstrators (including King) is reported to have remarked: “They’re scraping the bottom of the barrel.” Concerning this comment we can only observe that no barrel can be much good unless its bottom is sound. Chances are that thirty-five years ago there were people in both India and England who looked upon Mahatma Gandhi as the bottom of the barrel, too.
We are grateful for the leadership of Martin Luther King and for the spirit that motivates it, as well as for the demonstration this citation gives of how amazingly far a little candle can sometimes throw its beams in a naughty world.
The Friends Journal editorial department at the time consisted of Frances Williams Brown as editor and manager, Ethan A. Nevin as assistant editor, and William Hubben as contributing editor.