Themes

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Intersecting Movements

Martin Luther King Jr. was not only a leader in the campaign to end segregation, but also a brilliant coordinator, working with national leaders from a variety of movements who were in solidarity with that struggle. The African-American community itself was complex and dynamic; within it there were leaders who represented a variety of perspectives and efforts directed towards justice, fairness and equality in the United States and around the world. This theme is intended to provide a selection of the documents that represent Dr. King’s engagement of intersecting social movements. It includes correspondence related to organized labor, black nationalism, pan-Africanism and peace organizations.

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Letter to Dr. King from Elder G.W. Watkins

Friday, August 2, 1957

Elder G. W. Watkins writes Dr. King requesting that he and his organization join the fight to regain Cassius Clay's (Muhammad Ali) title as the Heavy Weight Boxing Champion of the World.

The Kinship Between the Labor Unions and Negroes

Dr. King presents a speech at the United Auto Workers Convention in May 1961, which acknowledges the new challenges faced by factory workers because of technological advances that threaten to leave them jobless. He draws a parallel between the plight of auto workers and the Negro experiences of disenfranchisement in the US to highlight the potential for alliance between the two groups.

Letter from James Farmer to MLK

Wednesday, August 16, 1967

Chairman J. Farmer gives Dr. King a report from the National Advisory Committee of CORE.

Telegram from MLK to Judy Silver & Gordon Geller

Dr. King salutes the Cincinnati Committee of Concern for Soviet Jewry for their efforts to end discrimination against the Jewish people of the U.S.S.R.

People in Action: Segregation And The Church

Saturday, February 2, 1963

In this New York Amsterdam News article of February 2, 1963, Dr. King mentions writer James Baldwin’s scathing indictment of the Christian Church and states that the Church has been complicit in the system of racial segregation or remained silent on racial injustice, the nation’s most urgent social ill. The church should be the headlight, he states, not the taillight and be true to the prophetic call for justice. King takes hope, however, having just attended the National Conference on Religion and Race in Chicago, which brought together Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish leaders.

Letter from Sanford Kahn to MLK

Wednesday, December 21, 1966

Sanford Kahn requests Dr. King's support for an effort to abolish the death penalty at the federal level. If given Dr. King's support, Kahn proposes listing the SCLC as a participating member of the ad hoc committee. If the SCLC cannot be listed, Kahn suggests Dr. King serve as an advisor.

Letter from William S. Stein to MLK

Friday, May 6, 1966

William Stein informs Dr. King that the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church will be contributing to SCLC.

Anonymous Letter to Charles C. Diggs Jr.

This anonymous letter to Congressman Charles Diggs, Jr. of Michigan details the grievances suffered by Negro and Caucasian females in the U.S. Army. The authors assert that they routinely are subjected to segregation in public accommodations and are denied equal opportunity for promotion and reenlistment.

Letter from Lawndale Business Men's Association

Monday, January 31, 1966

The president of the Lawndale Business Men's Association, Albert Weinberg, invites Dr. King to be the principal speaker for one of the association's events.

Telegram from Minsters of Operation Breadbasket to Robert E. Slater

Wednesday, November 22, 1967

The John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company is called to discuss racial discrimination. Ministers from Operation Breadbasket explain that they will commence an investigation to possibly eradicate the unequal employment practices of the company.

Co-Op Movements for Black Economic Development

This memorandum sent to Dr. King by Professor St. Clair Drake, is a full proposal for the development/revival of the co-operative movements among negroes in large urban centers.

Agenda for the Leadership Conference Executive Committee Meeting

Arnold Aronson sends the agenda for an upcoming meeting for the Executive Committee of the Leadership Conference. Important topics of discussion include the Civil Rights Act of 1967 and the Freedom Budget.

Telegram from Malcolm X to MLK

Tuesday, June 30, 1964

Malcolm X offers Dr. King assistance with the situation in St. Augustine, including the organization of self-defense units.

A Statement to the South and the Nation

The Southern Leaders Conference on Transportation and Non-Violent Integration issued this statement to the nation regarding the unresolved problems of civil rights. The leaders asked for all Negroes, particularly those in the South, to assert their human dignity and to seek justice by rejecting all injustices.

Letter of Support to SCLC from SAVE

Friday, July 7, 1967

Gladys Weekes states that she and her fellow members of the Southern Assistant Volunteer Effort (SAVE) are happy to again support the SCLC.

Letter from Sarvajanik Kalyan Samiti to MLK

Friday, June 25, 1965

The Indian organization, Sarvajanik Kalyan Samiti, expresses admiration of Dr. King's heroic struggle for civil rights in the US, along with his application of Mahatma Gandhi's methods. A bronze bust of Gandhi is offered as a gift of appreciation and a request made for placement of the statue in a children's park.

A New South A-Coming

This pamphlet discusses the courageous stand of African American high school students against racial discrimination in the South. The efforts demonstrated by these young people to bring about change of many undemocratic practices were significantly noted in Negro history.

MLK's Address About South Africa

Friday, December 10, 1965

Addressing the apartheid situation in South Africa, Dr. King states that white rulers of South Africa, rather than black Africans, are "modern day barbarians." He continues to say that although black South Africans are the majority, they are oppressed by the minority. This is one of many occasions that Dr. King parallels racial injustices and views civil rights as an international issue.

Letter from Richard W. Boone to MLK

Tuesday, January 11, 1966

A letter from Richard Boone, Executive Director of Citizens Crusade Against Poverty, to Dr. King, enclosing the preliminary draft of the C.C.A.P.'s training proposal to the Ford Foundation.

Letter from Mark Raphael to MLK

Mark Raphael, the President of the All-Square Student Congress Speaker's Bureau at New York University, invites Dr. King to talk about his priorities in America and plans for Washington.

Letter from Silas K. Brown to MLK

Tuesday, December 26, 1967

Mr. Brown requests the help of Dr. King and the SCLC on behalf of Reverend U.S. Gilliam. Reverend Gilliam, the first Negro to run for public office in Grenada, Mississippi, is under attack by whites in his community.

Letter from Jill Chisholm to MLK

Sunday, January 22, 1967

Ms. Chisholm, from South Africa, informs Dr. King of her temporary stay in the United States to research the non-violent movement and work of SCLC. She request to meet with Dr. King to discuss his work in Atlanta, GA and Chicago, IL.

SCLC Resolution on 1966 Civil Rights Act

Thursday, August 11, 1966

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.

Letter from Franklin W. Thomas to MLK

Friday, June 2, 1967

Franklin W. Thomas writes to Dr. King to apologize for the delay in honoring his participation in the Hungry Club Forum 20th Anniversary Series.

Letter from Irwin Heilner to MLK

Thursday, December 19, 1963

Music composer Irwin Heilner corresponds with Dr. King inquiring about the possibility of composing music and setting it to King's "I Have A Dream" speech.

Conference on Strengthening the New Politics

Monday, December 20, 1965

Paul Albert forwards this letter to all individuals invited to and interested in the Shoreham Conference, in which Liberals address the shortcomings of American politics.

Letter from Pastor William A. Lawson to MLK

Sunday, September 25, 1966

Pastor Bill Lawson writes Dr. King seeking his help with spreading the Civil Rights Movement in Houston. He asks King to establish a permanent SCLC office in Houston and engage in nonviolent demonstrations.

"Dr. King Denounces Write-In Plot"

Monday, November 2, 1964

Contrary to what radio announcements and newspapers advertise, Dr. King urges Negro voters to vote for a presidential candidate that is already on the ballot. He expresses that he is not a candidate and does not want voters to write his name on the ballot.

Letter from Walter Gibson to MLK

Tuesday, December 5, 1967

Mr. Gibson writes to Dr. King concerning his political position on the Vietnam War. He believes that the war is a just war because the end is to help the South Vietnamese halt the spread of communism.

CIC Press Release: Hilliard to Head Catholic Testimonial for MLK

Wednesday, September 23, 1964

The Catholic Interracial Council releases a statement announcing Raymond M. Hilliard as the Chairman of the 1964 John F. Kennedy Award Dinner. During the event, Dr. King will be honored for his leadership and dedication to the civil rights struggle. Hilliard, whom President Johnson named to the National Citizens Committee for Community Relations to advise on the implementation of civil rights legislation, called Dr. King's work "inspired and truly Christian" and said that the CIC was honored to celebrate him.