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Emancipation Proclamation

President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation as an executive order on January 1, 1863, after the Confederate States of America did not respond to an ultimatum that they rejoin the Union. While stating that all slaves in ten rebellion states were free, it did not outlaw slavery, compensate the owners for their “property” or make the slaves citizens. It was not until passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1865 that slavery was outlawed, but the Emancipation Proclamation gave the Union troops the authority to free slaves in areas they occupied. On May 17, 1962, Dr. King delivered to the White House a document calling upon President Kennedy to mark the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation by signing an executive order outlawing segregation. That document is in this archive.

Associated Archive Content : 13 results

A Challenge to the Churches and Synagogues

In this document, Dr. King addressed the Conference on Religion and Race in Chicago, Illinois. He reprimands the Church and Synagogue for being silent or being a "silent partner of the status quo." Dr. King tells them that they must recapture its focus on human rights or risk becoming irrelevant. In closing, Dr. King challenges himself along with these religious institutions to make a choice; either continue to follow the "status quo" or "give ourselves unreservedly to God and his kingdom."

Address by MLK at the 30th Anniversary of District 65

This document, an address given by Dr. King on the 30th anniversary of District 65, includes handwritten notes. In the address, Dr. King talks about the importance of the Declaration of Independence and the Emancipation Proclamation to human rights.

American Journal: Let Justice Roll Down

Carey McWilliams writes to Dr. King to inform him his article, "Let Justice Roll Down," was included in the American Journal, a publication by the US Information Service aimed at representing opinions and current subjects of interest in the United States. This edition, published in 1965, was he 5th year in a row Dr. King had contributed an article describing the tempo of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.

Appeal to the President of the United States

This document, prepared for the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, serves as a plea to President Kennedy and a legal brief. The plea is to use the centennial as an opportunity to "rededicate" the nation to the principles embedded in the Emancipation Proclamation; to make an executive order to end all statutory segregation and discrimination in the states; and to exercise full leadership protecting civil rights, including the use of force, if nonviolent methods fail.

I Have A Dream

In the most famous of his speeches, given from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Dr. King drew on themes from previous sermons and speeches, including an address he called The American Dream. Citing Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation, the US Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence, King calls upon the nation to fulfill its promise of freedom and justice for all of its citizens. Although he began by reading from a manuscript, he later abandoned it and spoke directly to the crowd of more than 200,000.

Letter from Dr. J. H. Young to MLK

Dr. J. H. Young writes this letter to Dr. King about slavery, the Civil War, and President Lincoln. He reminds Dr. King that the Civil War was fought not over slavery, but succession.

MLK in Memoriam

Following Dr. King's assassination, this tribute highlights King's life and the impact he had on the world. It includes a reading from "The Negro American: A Documentary History," an audio recording of Dr. King's "I Have a Dream Speech" and his eulogy. test2

Preview of the "Dream" at Detroit March

Two months before the famous "I Have a Dream" speech at the March on Washington, King used many of the same words, rhetorical techniques, and themes. King expresses gratitude and inspiration and warns against hatred and separatism at what he thinks is the largest US demonstration to date, a march in Detroit June 23, 1963. The legacy of slavery and segregation induced a false sense of inferiority in Negroes.

SCLC Newsletter: February 1964

This SCLC newsletter covers items ranging from Dr. King's Nobel Peace Prize nomination to voter registration drives throughout the country. The lead photo features national civil rights leaders "summoned to the White House for a special conference with President Lyndon B. Johnson."

SCLC Resolution on 1966 Civil Rights Act

At its Tenth Annual Convention, the SCLC Board adopts a resolution calling upon President Johnson and Congress to reverse a vote on Title IV (Open Housing) of the Civil Rights Act of 1966 that effectively permits discrimination in the sale or rental of private housing. It also faults the Administration for failure to enforce Title VI (Ban on Federal Funds for Segregated Programs and Schools) of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and for inadequate appointment of voter examiners under the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Speech at Chicago Freedom Movement Rally

Dr. King speaks of the urgent need to address issues in the city such as deplorable housing conditions, discrimination in employment, segregation and overcrowded schools. He urges his listeners to commit to fill up the jails if necessary, register every eligible Negro to vote, withhold rent from slumlords, withdraw economic support from companies that don't hire Negroes, and support Negro-owned businesses. He stresses the importance of using nonviolent methods.

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

The Nation: Hammer of Civil Rights

This article by Dr. King appeared in the March 9, 1964, edition of The Nation. Dr. King discusses the impetus for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations' commitment to the cause. Recognizing the complexity of such a political movement, King lauds the President Johnson for fighting off attempts to weaken the bill. King also recognizes the achievements of the Fair Employment Committee, established by President Kennedy and headed by then-Vice President Johnson, in providing employment opportunities for many southern Negroes.