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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.

John F. Kennedy Award Dinner for MLK

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The Catholic Interracial Council sponsors the John F. Kennedy Dinner for Dr. King. The Master of Ceremonies will be Sister Mary William and will take place at the Pick-Congress Hotel.

Thursday, October 1, 1964

Letter from Eleanor Roosevelt to MLK

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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.

Saturday, March 31, 1962

Telegram from Ralph Abernathy to John F. Kennedy

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Rev. Ralph Abernathy accepts President John F. Kennedy’s invitation to meet and discuss the civil rights problem.

Thursday, June 13, 1963

Transcripts for Courses at Harvard University

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Lois Ryan forwards a transcript for two courses that Dr. King took while studying at Harvard University. These courses were Philosophy of Plate: Introductory and The Philosophy of Whitehead.

Thursday, August 13, 1953

Letter From Birmingham City Jail

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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.

Wednesday, May 1, 1963

Flight Schedule for Coretta Scott King and Party

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The Henderson Travel Service provides a detailed schedule of suggested flights for Coretta Scott King and others traveling to witness Dr. King receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

Tuesday, December 1, 1964

Transcript of National Educational Television's For Freedom Now

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For Freedom Now, with host Dr. Kenneth Clark, is television’s first exchange of ideas by the leaders of five organizations engaged in securing full civil rights for Negroes. Featured guests are Dr. King of SCLC, Whitney Young of the National Urban League, James Farmer of CORE, James Forman of SNCC, and Roy Wilkins of the NAACP.

Tuesday, July 23, 1963

SCLC Citizenship Workbook

This workbook is an extension of the SCLC Conference Citizenship program "designed to acquaint citizens with the way in which our government is run and to help them meet voting requirements." This resource tool features a number of vocabulary-building, arithmetic, reading comprehension, and spelling exercises to better equip voters with the knowledge to "fight against prejudice and loss of human rights in education."

Letter from J. T. Brooks to Dr. and Mrs. MLK

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Dexter Avenue Baptist Church representative J. T. Brooks conveys the church's interest in considering Dr. King for the pastorate.

Monday, November 16, 1953

Miss Mahalia Jackson in Concert

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The Southern Christian Leadership Conference presents Miss Mahalia Jackson in concert, marking "another milestone in her personal dedication to the drive for complete freedom for all humanity."

Sunday, December 1, 1963

I Marched on Washington

Kelly E. Miller composed this poem for Dr. King as a tribute to the March on Washington.

Bold Design for a New South

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Dr. King notes that civil rights has been replaced as the "Number One" domestic issue, dwarfed by the Cuban missile crisis, trade legislation and tax reform. He attributes this to public acceptance of tokenism as well as an overly cautious administration. While acknowledging that the administration has made greater efforts on civil rights than previous ones, Dr. King says the progress is constricted and confined.

Saturday, March 30, 1963

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

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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."

Tuesday, January 1, 1974

A Statement to the South and Nation

This seemingly unexceptional document signifies the birth of the SCLC. Dr. King, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and Rev. C. K. Steele assembled a consortium of leaders in Atlanta following the end of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The Southern Leaders Conference on Transportation and Non-Violent Integration issued this statement that addresses the intimidation, discrimination and economic disparity Negroes face in the South. The statement appeals to the federal government to intervene against assaults that block basic civil rights.

Address by MLK to the Hungry Club

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Dr. King addresses the members of The Hungry Club on the dilemma of "Negroes" obtaining complete equality. He refers to several passages from his "I Have a Dream" speech.

Wednesday, December 15, 1965

This is SCLC

This SCLC brochure highlights the organization's mission, organizational structure, and initiatives, such as voter registration drives, Citizenship Schools, and the Leadership Training Program.

If I Can Help Somebody

These are the words to a song written in 1945 by Alma Bazel Androzzo that was made famous by gospel singer Mahalia Jackson. Dr. King quotes this song in his Drum Major Instinct sermon delivered at Ebenezer Baptist Church on February 4, 1968.

Letter from Joan Daves to Dora MacDonald

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Joan Daves informs Dora MacDonald of the details for Dr. King's appearances on the Today Show, the Martha Dean Show, a Press Conference and a Channel 13 interview.

Tuesday, May 12, 1964

Letter from SNCC Executive Committee to MLK

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John Lewis and Silas Norman of SNCC write Dr. King to address their organization's grievances with the SCLC, specifically the SCLC's lack of cooperation in the Selma Voting Rights campaign. Members of SNCC state their disagreement with the march planned for March 7, 1965 because "the objectives of the march do not justify the danger and the resources involved." Lewis and Norman request a meeting with Dr. King to discuss reconciliation between SNCC and the SCLC.

Sunday, March 7, 1965

Birmingham Manifesto

This manifesto details the methods, accomplishments, failures and reasons for the use and postponement of direct action tactics in Birmingham, Alabama.

Invitation to President Johnson's Inauguration

Dr. King receives an invitation to attend and participate in the Inauguration of President Lyndon B. Johnson and Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey.

Ralph David Abernathy: A Man of the People

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference published this booklet profiling Ralph David Abernathy. The articles describe his background, how he got involved in the Civil Rights Movement and the future of the SCLC under his leadership.

The Nobel Couple

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The cover photo of the December 1964 issue of The American Chronicle captures Dr. and Mrs. King after they discover he was named the winner of the year's Nobel Peace Prize.

Thursday, December 10, 1964

Presidential Invitation to White House Luncheon

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President Kennedy invites Dr. King to attend a White House Luncheon on the occasion of the visit of Archbishop Makarios, the President of the Republic of Cyprus.

Tuesday, June 5, 1962

Speeches by the Leaders

In this booklet, the NAACP compiled famous speeches from the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Included are speeches from A. Philip Randolph, Roy Wilkins, James Farmer, Rev. Eugene Carson Blake, Rabbi Joachim Prinz, Whitney M. Young, Matthew Ahmann, John Lewis, Walter Reuther, and Dr. King. The booklet concludes with a pledge and a picture of the throng of supporters that attended the event. test

What is Man?

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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.

Sunday, January 12, 1958

Letter from MLK to Coretta Scott King

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In an intimate letter to Mrs. King, Dr. King informs her of his recent arrival to the State Prison in Reidsville, Georgia. He urges her "to be strong in faith" as she is also pregnant with their third child at the time. He expresses his hope for a family visit that coming Sunday, and his desire to remain intellectually engaged during his four-month sentence.

Saturday, October 1, 1960

President Kennedy's Stand on Negotiation in Albany

In this statement made from the Albany, Georgia city jail where he was imprisoned, Dr. King expresses appreciation for President Kennedy's support of negotiation between Albany's City Commission and civil rights leaders.

SCLC Action Committee Meeting

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This critical 2-day strategy meeting of key SCLC staff takes place 2 months prior to the projected start of the Poor People’s Campaign in Washington, DC. Dr. King expresses concern that they have not met their target goals for participation. Debate ensues about whether to call off the campaign or push it to a later date, and also whether SCLC should abandon all of its other commitments to ensure the success of this project. Problems and solutions are discussed. Staff assignments made for recruitment of the poor, materials, organizational structure, tentative plan of action, D.C.

Sunday, February 11, 1968

SCLC Newsletter: September 1963

This issue of the SCLC Newsletter covers the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The publication features a number of photographs, editorials and the full text of Dr. King's Washington address.

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