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 from the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament to MLK

UNITED KINGDOM, London, England, Washington, D.C.

Canon L. John Collins, a founder of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, invites Dr. King to speak at a rally in Trafalgar Square in London, England. The proposed rally will be based on the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and Collins would like to provide a direct link between the rally and the Washington March through the participation of both Bayard Rustin and Dr. King.

Revolution in the Delta: Farm Hands Go on Strike

Mississippi (MS)

David R. Underhill discusses the strike of farm laborers in various Mississippi Delta cities. Underhill highlights strike procedures, methods, and locations.

Letter from Howard Schomer to Robert Kennedy

Saturday, October 26, 1963
New Orleans, LA, Washington, D.C., Louisiana (LA), Birmingham, AL

Howard Schomer asks the US Attorney General several questions about the legality of a police raid that occurred at a Southern Conference Educational Fund (SCEF) office in New Orleans, Louisiana. Schomer wants to know if the statute under which the raid was carried out has legal force and does the Department of Justice have an obligation to make its evidence public?

Letter from Pastor William A. Lawson to MLK

Sunday, September 25, 1966
Texas (TX), Dallas, TX

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.

Letter from Pierre C. Armand to MLK

Monday, April 1, 1968
New York (NY), HAITI, GUINEA, Brooklyn, NY

Mr. Armand writes Dr. King concerning the goals of The Haitian Community Center in New York City. The Center attempts to institute programming in order to alleviate the various difficulties of the Haitian community. Mr. Armand also invites Dr. King to speak at a distinguished event as an honorary guest.

Pamphlet About the Black Panther Party

Wednesday, June 1, 1966
Alabama (AL), New York, NY, Birmingham, AL, Chicago, IL, Boston, MA, Selma, AL, Los Angeles, CA

This pamphlet contains historical and contextual references to the Black Panther Party. It also includes a speech by John Hulett and an interview of Stokely Carmichael highlighting the political and social movements occurring in Lowndes County, Alabama.

Letter from William S. Stein to MLK

Friday, May 6, 1966
Selma, AL, Alabama (AL), Chicago, IL

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.

Alabama (AL), New Orleans, LA, Louisiana (LA), Chicago, IL, Illinois (IL), JAPAN

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 Andrew Heiskell to MLK

Tuesday, July 25, 1967
New York, NY, Chicago, IL, Atlanta, GA, Detroit, MI, Boston, MA, Washington, D.C.

Mr. Heiskell extends an invitation for Dr. King to join Mayors of major cities and other national leaders in forming a coalition to address urban problems.

Letter from Richard A. Russell to MLK about Integrated Housing

Tuesday, November 22, 1966
Atlanta, GA, Georgia (GA)

In this letter to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mr. Russell inquires about the Federal Housing Administration's decision on the requirements of housing integration.

The A. Philip Randolph Institute

New York, NY

The A. Philip Randolph Institute was organized to mobilize labor, religious and other groups in support of the civil rights movement. Dr. King was a member of the Advisory Board.

Letter from MLK to Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller

Friday, September 14, 1962
New York (NY), Georgia (GA), Albany, GA

In this letter, Dr. King writes to New York Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller to express his gratitude for the Governor's letter and copy of his new book. Dr. King also refers to the possibility of Gov. Rockefeller's making "a large contribution to the Gandhi Society for Human Rights," and writes extensively about the Society and the effect such a contribution would have.

MLK Announces End of Montgomery Bus Boycott

Thursday, December 20, 1956
Montgomery, AL

Dr. King, as President of the Montgomery Improvement Association, issued this statement following the US Supreme Court’s decision declaring laws requiring segregation on busses unconstitutional. He announces that the year-long bus boycott is officially over and urges Negroes to return to the buses the next morning on a non-segregated basis. Negroes need to adopt a spirit of understanding toward their white brothers, he says. It is time to move from protest to reconciliation.

The Many Faces of Black Power

CHINA, CUBA, FORMER SOVIET UNION / USSR

The author identifies several approaches to the notion of Black Power. The author concludes that Black Power is "a programmatic concept capable of objective definition", "it presents many difficulties", and that the negatives have outweighed the positives.

Selma Friendship Day Report

Selma, AL, Alabama (AL), Mississippi (MS)

This document highlights information surrounding "Selma Friendship Day," which was a white-led counter-protest intended to offset the effects of Kingian boycotts. This counter-protest was met with a demonstration, in which 120 pro-Kingian persons were arrested and the local SCLC office was barricaded.

Letter from Joan Daves to MLK

Tuesday, September 8, 1964
London, England, New York, NY, New York (NY)

This letter from Ms. Daves to Dr. King features requests regarding his itinerary for his trip to England.

Workers Defense League Board Meeting Announcement

New York, NY

This is an invitation to the annual national executive board meeting of the Workers Defense League in New York City. The agenda is to discuss civil rights, how to defend the rights of conscientious objectors, workers and welfare recipients, political asylum, and other topics.

Methodist Church Statement on Vietnam Conflict

VIETNAM, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, CHINA, Washington, D.C.

The Board of Christian Social Concerns of the Methodist Church releases a statement regarding the conflict in Vietnam and possible outcomes and solutions. The board urges steps leading to a withdrawal of US forces from Vietnam.

Letter to MLK from Homer Brown

Monday, October 4, 1965
Atlanta, GA

Homer Brown writes Dr. King regarding his experience with racism in the Railway Express Agency.

Letter from Matthew T. Doherty to MLK

Tuesday, July 26, 1966
Atlanta, GA, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, New York (NY)

Matthew Doherty responds to an "eloquent and moving" appeal from Dr. King in the July 26th issue of The New York Times. Doherty discusses the recent surge in "black power" and its role in the ongoing struggle for equal rights. The writer also mentions his "small" contribution to aid Dr. King's efforts to "make this a better world for all of us."

Letter from MLK to Rev. John A. Clark

Tuesday, July 11, 1967
Detroit, MI, Michigan (MI)

Dr. King expresses his agreement with Reverend Clark regarding the church's lax position on "racial justice and brotherhood among men." Although he cannot participate in Reverend Clark's suggested campaign, Dr. King encourages the minister to move forward with his plans of establishing a revival campaign to preach "the message of Our Lord at every opportunity."

Letter from Jill Chisholm to MLK

Sunday, January 22, 1967
Atlanta, GA, Chicago, IL, Johannesburg, South Africa

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.

Letter from Nathaniel L. Hawthorne to MLK

Friday, March 22, 1968
Virginia (VA), Washington, D.C.

Nathaniel Lee Hawthorne, who describes himself as “a nonviolent militant Negro” from rural Virginia, asks Dr. King for advice on publishing a book. Hawthorne wants to tell the nation what it feels like to be poor

CIC Press Release: Hilliard to Head Catholic Testimonial for MLK

Wednesday, September 23, 1964
Chicago, IL, Illinois (IL), New York (NY), New York, NY, Washington, D.C.

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.

Letter from Walter Martin to SCLC Officials

Tuesday, February 28, 1967
New York, NY, South Africa

Walter Martin of the American Friends Service Committee, writes to numerous SCLC officials concerning Quaker work in Southern Africa.

Chicago Freedom Fund Festival

Chicago, IL, Little Rock, AR, Nashville, TN, North Carolina (NC), Mississippi (MS), New Jersey (NJ), Detroit, MI, Birmingham, AL, Atlanta, GA

The Chicago Freedom Fund Festival, organized by Mahalia Jackson, served as a benefit for the SCLC.

Letter from James Bevel on the Spring Mobilization Committee

Cleveland, OH, Ohio (OH), New York, NY, New York (NY), VIETNAM, San Francisco, CA, California (CA), Missouri (MO), Baltimore, MD, Philadelphia, PA, Maryland (MD), Chicago, IL, Illinois (IL), CANADA, Washington (WA)

James Bevel, national director of the Spring Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, offers insight into the purpose of the committee. The committee focuses on launching two mass demonstrations to stop the war, with the goal of "seeking to stimulate increased activity everywhere."

MLK Letter to Mr. Abe Feinglass

Monday, July 27, 1964
Chicago, IL

Dr. King writes to Abe Feinglass of the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen's Union, thanking him for the union's booklet on civil rights, "The Time Is Now." King also encloses a statement of endorsement.

Letter from Malcolm X to MLK

Wednesday, July 31, 1963
New York, NY

Malcolm X invites Dr. King, along with other Negro leaders, to give an analysis and a solution on the current "race problem" at a rally in New York on August 10th.

"Dr. King Denounces Write-In Plot"

Monday, November 2, 1964
Atlanta, GA, Washington, D.C.

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.