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Spotlights

There are nearly a million documents associated with the life of Martin Luther King Jr. These pages will present a more dynamic view than is often seen of Dr. King’s life and times. The documents reveal the scholar, the father, and the pastor. Through these papers we see the United States of America at one of its most vulnerable, most honest and perhaps most human moments in history. There are letters bearing the official marks of royalty and the equally regal compositions of children. You will see speeches, telegrams, scribbled notes, patient admonitions and urgent pleas. This spotlight shows you a glimpse of the remarkable history within this collection.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Tuesday, January 1, 1974
Georgia (GA), Atlanta, GA, California (CA), Los Angeles, CA, Washington, D.C., New York (NY), New York, NY

This document is regarding the celebration of the Birthday Anniversary of the late Dr. King. The author states, "While the national holiday legislation is pending in Congress, masses of people everywhere already personally declare the date to be their own to honor one of history's greatest leaders."

Donation from United States Trust Company

Tuesday, February 6, 1968
New York (NY), New York, NY

Franklin D. Roosevelt III arranges to have one thousand dollars sent to the SCLC.

The False God of Money

Sunday, July 19, 1953

This sermon titled "The False God of Money" was preached by Dr. King on July 19, 1953. Dr. King raised a question to his congregation stating, "Will you serve the transitory god of money which is here today and gone tomorrow or will you serve the eternal God of the universe who is the same yesterday, today and forever?"

Protest Against MLK Flyer

Chicago, IL, CHINA

This flyer accuses Dr. King of being a traitor and calls for a protest rally when he appears at Grosse Pointe High School in Detroit

The Modern Negro Activist

Montgomery, AL, GHANA, NIGERIA, KENYA, CONGO / ZAIRE, Alabama (AL), California (CA), Cambridge, MA, Massachusetts (MA)

Dr. King profiles the emergent young Negro civil rights activist who is college-educated, creative, brave and committed to the discipline of non-violence. He attributes the activist's diligence to a keen awareness that they inhabit a world on the cusp of positive social change and that they will have the privilege to direct that change. They are no longer to be an imitator of his white counterpart, but rather an initiator and leader in this new age.

Letter from Lyndon B. Johnson to MLK

Monday, May 18, 1964
Washington, D.C.

President Lyndon B. Johnson writes Dr. King, thanking him for sending him an advance copy of "Why We Can't Wait."

Invitation to President Kennedy's Inaugural Concert

Washington, D.C.

This invitation was sent to Dr. and Mrs. King, inviting them to attend a concert celebrating the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson. The concert features Mischa Elman, a Russian emigre and famed musician.

A Look To The Future

Monday, September 2, 1957
Tennessee (TN), EGYPT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

For the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Highlander Folk School, Dr. King delivers the speech "A Look To The Future." He uses a timeline to explain the adversities African Americans endured to gain recognition as American citizens. He also points out the efforts of the Ku Klux Klan and the White Citizens Councils to make African Americans second class citizens. Lastly, Dr. King points out that America should be more maladjusted in order to avoid failing to cope with the demands of the normal social environment.

Photo of MLK

An unidentified photo of Dr. King from the Morehouse Collection.

Nobel Peace Prize Dinner Program

Monday, January 27, 1964
Atlanta, GA

The citizens of Atlanta held a recognition dinner on January 27, 1965 to honor Dr. King for his Nobel Peace Prize. Tributes were offered by Mayor Ivan Allen, Jr., AME Bishop Ernest Hickman, Rev. Edward Driscoll of the Georgia Council of Churches, State Senator Leroy Johnson, and Roman Catholic Archbishop Paul Hallinan. Dr. King gave the address.

The Christian Way of Life in Human Relations

Wednesday, December 4, 1957
Little Rock, AR, Atlanta, GA, Montgomery, AL, Arkansas (AR), Georgia (GA), Alabama (AL), Missouri (MO)

Dr. King makes a speech to the National Council of Churches regarding the issue of American race relations. After school integration ... has noticed a radical change in the attitudes of African-Americans, ultimately giving birth to this mental and figurative notion of the "new Negro". He solicits the assistance and leadership of the nation's churches to take a firm stand against the rampant inequalities afflicting blacks are facing in America.

Invitation to President Kennedy's Inauguration

Washington, D.C.

This invitation was sent to Dr. and Mrs. King, inviting them to the inauguration ceremony of President-elect John F. Kennedy and Vice President-elect Lyndon B. Johnson.

Telegram from MLK to President Johnson on Rhodesia

Thursday, November 11, 1965
Washington, D.C., South Africa

Dr. King urges President Johnson to respond to the unilateral declaration of independence by Prime Minister Ian Smith of Rhodesia by withdrawing American officials, refusing diplomatic recognition and severing economic ties.

Letter from A. Phillip Randolph to MLK

Tuesday, April 7, 1964
New York (NY), New York, NY, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Mr. Randolph addresses his concerns with current events that could potentially harm the Civil Rights Movement. His list of developments includes Malcolm X's promotion of rifle clubs, the use of propaganda tactics to separate white people from the Civil Rights Movement, the increasing totalitarian influence on protest groups in northern cities and demagogic leadership that creates confusion and frustration. Mr. Randolph requests a meeting to discuss how to address these issues.

The Birth of a New Nation

GHANA, Alabama (AL)

Dr. King compares the ongoing civil rights struggle in the United States to the Hebrews' Exodus from Egypt.

An Open Letter to Free Americans

Memphis, TN, Birmingham, AL, Washington, D.C.

In response to Dr. King's assassination, the author urges "Free Americans" to join the fight against racism.

Text of Speech Delivered at Lincoln Memorial

Wednesday, August 28, 1963
Washington, D.C.

This speech, given by Dr. King at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C, brings attention to the current state of oppression of Negro men and women in 1963.

Response to Reasons Why African Americans Should Boycott Whitey's Olympics

Wednesday, February 28, 1968
LIBERIA, Chicago, IL

The writer responds to an article in The Post on why African Americans should boycott the Olympics. He believes that Negroes should return to Africa or form their own community in the US separate from whites. God did not intend whites and Negroes to live together, the author maintains, or would have made them the same color. Negroes should take responsibility for their own condition rather than blaming whites. test

Soap, Brush Help

Chicago, IL, Illinois (IL)

Addressing Chicago slums, the focal point of Dr. King's Chicago crusade, the writer of the article calls for all tenants, regardless of race, creed or color, to assume some responsibility for the upkeep of their buildings instead of expecting Dr. King and the landlords of the buildings to solve the issue for them.

Birmingham Desegregation Settlement Agreement

Friday, May 10, 1963
Birmingham, AL

Dr. King reviews the settlement made between the City of Birmingham and civil rights protesters. This agreement includes the integration of lunch counters, sitting rooms, restrooms, and water fountains within ninety days.

Albany Manifesto

Sunday, July 15, 1962
Albany, GA, Georgia (GA)

The "Albany Manifesto" declares the Albany Movement to be uncompromisingly opposed to segregation. The manifesto positions the group to continue to exercise its free speech and free assembly rights to protest segregation. Protesters insist upon the speedy resolution of the charges against seven hundred protesters that had been languishing for more than six months.

Letter from Eleanor Roosevelt to MLK

Saturday, March 31, 1962
New York, NY, Illinois (IL)

Eleanor Roosevelt invites Dr. King for afternoon tea to discuss ongoing issues in Deerfield, Illinois with Rev. Bletzer and members of the American Freedom of Residence Fund.

Letter From Birmingham City Jail

Wednesday, May 1, 1963
Birmingham, AL, Alabama (AL)

Dr. King's famous "Letter from Birmingham Jail" is a response to a statement written by several Alabama Clergymen. In that statement, the Clergymen assert that Dr. King's methods are both "unwise and untimely." They brand him an "outside agitator" who should not be advocating the breaking of the law. Dr. King responds with this Letter and politely references Biblical, Classical and early American figures to counter the arguments of the Clergymen.

Letter from Peter A. Minthom to Ralph D. Abernathy

Monday, April 29, 1968
Oregon (OR), Washington, D.C., Atlanta, GA, Georgia (GA)

Peter Minthom, an American Indian from Oregon, requests assistance in traveling to Washington D.C. for the Poor People’s March.

MLK Postcard - American Negro Emancipation Centennial

Wednesday, January 1, 1964
Ohio (OH), Montgomery, AL, Pennsylvania (PA), Boston, MA, Washington, D.C.

The American Negro Emancipation Centennial issued this 1964 postcard containing Dr. King's brief biography. The postcard was designed to be used as a study guide in Negro history.

I HAVE A DREAM

Washington, D.C., UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, California (CA), Los Angeles, CA, Mississippi (MS), New York (NY), Alabama (AL), South Carolina (SC), Georgia (GA), Louisiana (LA), New Hampshire (NH), Pennsylvania (PA), Colorado (CO), Tennessee (TN), Atlanta, GA

Text of Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech delivered August 28, 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D. C.

Statement on the Indictment of MLK

Thursday, March 3, 1960
Alabama (AL), UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, New York, NY, New York (NY), Montgomery, AL, New Orleans, LA, Mississippi (MS), Louisiana (LA), Orangeburg, SC, Birmingham, AL, Nashville, TN, Tallahassee, FL, Little Rock, AR

The "Committee to Defend Martin Luther King, Jr." issued this statement, accusing the state of Alabama of falsely distorting Dr. King's 1958 income tax return in an attempt to indict him.

Tonight Show Appearance Press Release

Wednesday, January 31, 1968
Washington, D.C.

The SCLC announces that Dr. King will appear on the Tonight Show with Harry Belafonte filling in for Johnny Carson as host. Comedian Nipsey Russell and actor Paul Newman, both active in the civil rights movement, will also be guests. Dr. King looks forward to this opportunity to speak about the upcoming Poor People?s Campaign.

Appeal from Wyatt Tee Walker for Albany Support

Wednesday, July 25, 1962
Albany, GA

Following the arrests of Dr. King and three others who held a prayer vigil at the Albany, Georgia City Hall, Rev. Wyatt Tee Walker issues this appeal for support from those active in the civil rights movement. He calls for telegrams to be sent to federal, state, and local officials, prayer vigils, and the wearing of black armbands.

What is Man?

Sunday, January 12, 1958
Montgomery, AL

Citing views from historical and contemporary figures, Dr. King asserts that the definition of "man" lies somewhere between God and an animal. Dr. King contends that, although man is limited by time and space, humans are not animals, because they have the capacity for rational thought. However, the central theme that Dr. King argues is that humanity is inherently evil and must constantly strive for high moral standards.