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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.

Remarks by MLK in Acceptance of the Spingarn Medal

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In his acceptance speech for the Spingarn Medal, Dr. King remarks about the need for continuing the fight for social justice and equality around the world. He acknowledges the work of NAACP along with protesters as they continue to be on the frontline in addressing the nation's social ills.

Friday, June 28, 1957

Photo of MLK and Mr. David

Mr. David sends Dr. King a picture displaying the two outside a Jackson, Mississippi Holiday Inn.

Proposal for Preventing Denial of the Right to Vote

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William L. Higgs proposes that the Democratic Caucus in the US Senate adopt a resolution that no Democratic Senator shall become chairman of a Senate Standing Committee if his seat was won in an election where there was substantial denial of the right to vote based on race. In Mississippi only 6% of eligible Negroes are registered to vote, yet US Senator James Eastland chairs the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee that considers legislation regarding the right to vote and also the appointment of judges charged with enforcing those laws.

Thursday, October 29, 1964

How My Theology Has Changed

Dr. King highlights seven main ways in which his theological views have changed since his final year at Crozer Theological Seminary.

Remarks by MLK at the Freedom House Annual Dinner

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Dr. King expresses his appreciation for being honored by Freedom House. He also pays tribute to the life and work of John F. Kennedy while encourging others to honor his memory through their dedication to civil rights.

Tuesday, November 26, 1963

Walk in Sympathy and Brotherhood

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This is the itinerary for the Walk in Sympathy and Brotherhood to Dr. King's funeral site. A group of bereaved citizens from Northeast Atlanta organized this walk to express human solidarity.

Monday, April 8, 1968

Dr. King Leaves Montgomery for Atlanta

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This news release announces Dr. King's decision to resign as Pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama and move to Atlanta, Georgia. Relocating to Atlanta will enable Dr. King to Co-Pastor Ebenezer Baptist Church with his father, and will leave him in close proximity to the SCLC.

Tuesday, December 1, 1959

Postcard from Dekker Family

The Dekker family of Holland sends its support to Dr. King.

Invitation to President Kennedy's Inaugural Ball

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

Sermon at The Washington Cathedral

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In a sermon written by Dr. King and addressed to an audience at the Washington Cathedral, the Reverend expounds upon the problem of poverty and war. In describing a projected human revolution, Dr. King states, "Somewhere we must come to see that human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability." This is just one of the many passages in this inspirational sermon encouraging hope and freedom for all.

Sunday, March 31, 1968

Letter from Chauncey Eskridge to David Acton

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This letter from Chauncey Eskridge to David Acton request the Leeds & Northrup Foundation provide a grant to the Southern Christian Leadership Foundation. Chauncey Eskridge includes a tax exempt letter and a copy of the trust instrument outlining the creation of the Southern Christian Leadership Foundation. Both Dr. King and Mr. Bernard Jackson received a copy of this letter.

Tuesday, November 21, 1967

The Philosophy of Life Undergirding Christianity and The Christian Ministry

In this essay fragment from his Crozer Seminary days, Dr. King writes that Christianity is a value philosophy whose values are embodied in the life of Christ. He begins to spell out what those values are. The first, King states, is the value of the world as something positive and life-affirming, in contrast to the negative view of the world of the ascetics and religions of India. The second value is that of persons, who have supreme worth. People must be used as ends, never as means to ends, although there have been periods in history where Christianity has fallen short.

Draft of Dedication Page for "Why We Can't Wait"

This document is a rough draft of the dedication page of Dr. King's book "Why We Can't Wait;" the draft reveals Dr. King's wish for his children.

The Other America

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Dr. King delivered this speech, "The Other America," for the Local 1199 Salute to Freedom program. The speech emphasized the need to address poverty, the Vietnam War, and race relations in America.

Sunday, March 10, 1968

Letter from Lyndon B. Johnson to MLK

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

Monday, May 18, 1964

Appeal from Wyatt Tee Walker for Albany Support

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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.

Wednesday, July 25, 1962

Letter from Benjamin E. Mays to MLK

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Morehouse College President Benjamin E. Mays writes Dr. King to ask him to consider donating his papers to the Atlanta University Center Library as an alternative to Boston University.

Thursday, May 7, 1964

Financial Report of the SCLC Home Office - Atlanta, GA, 1965-1966

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Jesse B. Blayton provides a summarized financial statement of cash receipts and disbursements for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference from July 1, 1965 to and including, June 30, 1966. This statement lists the allocations of funds for Operation Breadbasket, voter registration and political education initiatives, legal defense, and more.

Monday, August 8, 1966

Strength to Love

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This is the printer?s proof of Strength to Love, Dr. King?s book of sermons that was published in 1963. He drafted three of the sermons while serving a fifteen-day jail term in Albany, Georgia. Although his editors lauded the first draft, they later deleted strong phrases about segregation, colonialism and capitalism and many of his statements against war. The collection includes some of Dr. King's most popular sermons, including: Loving Your Enemies, Paul?s Letter to American Christians, A Knock at Midnight, A Tough Mind and a Tender Heart, and Three Dimensions of a Complete Life.

Sunday, August 11, 1963

March on Washington Lincoln Memorial Program

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This document outlines the program held at the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Wednesday, August 28, 1963

SCLC Press Release, Poor People's Campaign

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In this press release intended for the American public and media outlets, Dr. King argues that the country is "splitting into two hostile societies and the chief destructive cutting force is white racism." The SCLC President asserts that the federal government fails to eradicate social ills, like poverty, unless it is "confronted directly and massively." Henceforth, the nonviolent April 1968 Poor People's Campaign is intended to serve as the "final victory over racism and poverty."

Monday, March 4, 1968

Donation Slip with Criticism of MLK

A former contributer to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference criticized Dr. King on top of this donation slip.

Letter from Dimitri Papaspyrou to MLK

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Dimitri Papaspyrou, President of the Parliament, invites Dr. King to Greece to create a better understanding between Greek and American people.

Thursday, January 26, 1967

Letter from MLK to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy

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Dr. King describes Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy's efforts as "courageous" and "effective" in guiding Congress to establish the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Wednesday, June 24, 1964

Ebenezer Baptist Church Apartment Complex

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Ralph D. Abernathy informs Mr. J. Lafayette Morgan that he is unable to supply the information Mr. Morgan requested.

Wednesday, September 13, 1967

Poster: This Store Is Against Equal Opportunities for Negroes

The SCLC placed this type of boycott poster on the storefronts of businesses that refused to provide equal job opportunities to Negroes.

SCLC Tenth Anniversary Convention

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A program outlining the course of events for the 10th Anniversary Convention of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Monday, August 14, 1967

Current Magazine

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This Current Magazine issue on racism in the U.S. features an article "Is Direct Action Necessary" by Dr. King, as well as pieces by James Meredith, James Reston, and others.

Thursday, August 1, 1963

Photo of MLK

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

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.

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