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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.
Murray A. Gordon, a New York lawyer and national vice president of the American Jewish Congress, endorses the Bundy School-Decentralization plan. Mr. Gordon believes that the reform is essential to good education and assures teachers that the plan will not violate their rights.
Curtis W. Harris, of the Virginia State Unit of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, wrote to Dr. King to alert him that the Smithfield Packing Company has a labor situation very similar to that of Scripto in Atlanta. Harris explains that none of the senior Negro employees are in the appropriate income bracket and could use Dr. King's assistance.
Leonard Smith writes to Dr. King concerning a new venture of the National Sharecroppers Fund, which seeks to invest Negro business captial in Southeastern farming areas to benefit the rural poor.
Drawing connections between the social injustices of two continents, Dr. King discusses the relationship between segregation in America and colonialism in Africa. Dr. King also shares his opinion about America dominating Africa politically and economically.
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?
In this speech, Dr. King addresses the Civil Rights Movement and the use of nonviolent demonstration tactics. He distinguishes between civil disobedience, which involves breaking laws that one does not agree with, and nonviolent demonstration, which involves using one's right to protest. He states that nonviolent protest is inherently American, citing examples from the Civil War, the Suffragettes, and the American Jewish Committee's own lobbying from the early 20th Century.
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.
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.
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.
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."
Dr. King delivers an address for the Poor People's Campaign Committee of Nassau County.
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.
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.
Rev. Dr. Archie Hargraves was a distinguished urban minister and church leader who served America's cities for more than half a century. In this report he gives a summary of individual organizations under Mission Development, of which he was the Director. All of these organizations aimed to augment employment and economic opportunities for their respective surrounding communities.
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.
Dr. Benjamin Spock requests the support of the SCLC for "A Rally for Peace in Vietnam." Dr. Spock informs Dr. King, that the rally will advocate for immediate actions concerning the war in Vietnam.
Rev. Fred C. Bennette, Jr. writes a report on Operation Breadbasket. Rev. Bennette "hopes to increase its activity in alleviating the economic plight of the Negro in America." At the culmination of the report, he lists the main cities where the project will be implemented.
The Wooster Afro-American Students Organization inquires if Dr. King would be available to speak to the institute about the concept of Black Power.
O. P. Paliwal and Yves Choliere, from the World Council of Peace, invite Dr. King to speak at a session in Geneva about the well being of Vietnam.
Dr King delivered this report at the SCLC's ninth annual national convention in Birmingham, Alabama. Serving essentially as a State of the Union address for the SCLC, the report touches on the major topics of the Civil Rights Movement and the recent achievements and goals of the SCLC.