Letters to the Editor, Summit Herald, 1968 and 1971, by Betty Haig (1914-2017)

Encourages Unity Through Shared Worship; Defends School Board Decision to Honor Dr. King

This letter was published one month after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  It was read last Friday, June 16, by Rev. Dennison Harrield of Wallace Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church at Betty Haig's memorial service at Central Presbyterian Church in Summit. [Words in brackets added.]

Thursday, May 9, 1968

Editor, Summit Herald:

Since the Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish faiths express belief in one God who has given them the commands, "Love the Lord, thy God," and "Love thy Neighbor", it would seem to me quite important that we set about demonstrating this precept more clearly to the children of our community, and to each other. 

Despite our different kinds of buildings, and our different styles of worship and learning, we are one in the Spirit of God. Despite differences in culture, economics or intellectual attainments, our spirits are equal in the sight of God, and no one is greater or less than the other.

It has occurred to me that we can most emphatically demonstrate this belief by frequently visiting each other's houses of worship. The welcome mat has been out for years on the doorstep of every church [and synagogue] in town. If we do not accept the invitation, and do not exercise this freedom, it will be lost. Our sense of brotherhood can develop only as we act out our spiritual unity. 

Perhaps a visit by families once a month will eventually make us feel at home in all the churches [houses of worship] of Summit. It should enlarge our experience of God as we freely worship Him everywhere, and, I am sure would achieve within us a sense of knowing each other well in the fellowship of His love. 

Let us begin this Sunday [weekend]! See you in church [worship] - in your church [synagogue, mosque] - in my church (synagogue, mosque] - and there let us worship together. 

Mrs. E. H. Haig
18 Edgemont Ave.
Summit, NJ 


This letter is a response to a Miss Kenny, who had evidently submitted a letter criticizing the decision of the Summit Board of Education (and Mrs. Helen Huber, School Superintendent Dr. Kenneth Salisbury, Mayor Elmer Bennett, and Police Chief John Sayre) to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Betty Haig's letter protests the criticism. 

Thurs., Feb. 11, 1971
Editor, Summit Herald:
The following is an open answer to the letter of Miss Linda Kenny in the Herald of January 28, 1971, entitled "School Board Questioned." Publication in The Herald is requested.

Dear Miss Kenny:

I was astonished at your accusing questions in your letter to the Herald about a world-renowned Nobel Prize winner whom we should honor as a great American. The Communist government in Russia also accuses Nobel Prize winners whom they, too, should honor as great Russians. I hope you are not following their line.  

Why did you ask those questions of fine outstanding and responsible leaders in our community? Obviously not for information, for you could easily have gone to the library and researched your own answers regarding the life and character, the words and actions of Dr. Martin Luther King.  

His life was an open book for the entire country to see.  He worked to have all Americans, black and white, to know, to experience, and to live up to the guarantees of the Bill of Rights. He used every public means possible to dramatize where we as a people might be failing in this. 

His stand against violence was monumental. (...) Dr. King began his career as a Christian minister and remained one until his last breath.   (...) Did you know that shortly before his death he asked his friend to sing for him, "Precious Lord, Take My Hand?" Perhaps you did not see the beautiful way in which his own congregation and choir sang and prayed with his family at his funeral services.  (...) How does a man speak the way he spoke in the "I have a dream" speech, and in hundreds of speeches through the years without the Spirit of God and a deep and vital faith in Him.  

You should have more confidence in the laws and courts of this great nation to protect us from communists, and not find it necessary to conduct your own [charges] through deliberately directed questions thrown at our Summit officials, who you also seem to distrust.  

Dr. King was not a conspirator. He was shot and killed for pouring out his life for the needs of black people, of poor people, and all of us. It is you and the writer of the material distributed to you who are conspiring against his name and honor. 

An apology is owned Mrs. Huber, Police Chief Sayre, Mayor Bennett, Dr. Salisbury, and Mrs. Kelly, for your subtle insinuating questions.   

Sincerely yours,
Mrs. E. Hawley Haig
18 Edgemont Ave.
Summit, NJ


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Betty Myers Haig was born in 1914 in Elkins Park, Pa., and graduated in 1936 from the University of Pennsylvania. She taught choral music and English in Schwenksville and Doylestown, Pa., directed children's choirs at Central Presbyterian Church, Summit, in the late 1950s and 1960s, and was joyfully active in organizations supporting peace, racial justice, and a vibrant community. A church choir member for 37 years and a 63-year resident of Summit, Betty recently celebrated her 103rd birthday with friends and family.