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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.
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.
Esther Jackson of the New York Shakespeare Festival sends Dr. King a "discussion letter" to raise the issue of desegregating the arts. Nationwide, new arts programs will emerge and existing organizations funded as part of "Great Society" programs. Jackson calls for an effort to prevent discrimination in such programs now rather than attempting to dislodge discrimination after it becomes further entrenched. She outlines the beginning of a response to the issue.
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.
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."
An editor from McGraw-Hill Book Company writes Dr. King to introduce the work of young African-American author Audrey Lee. The company sends him a galley copy of "The Clarion People", in the hope that he will add a positive remark to help promote the book.
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.
This document reviews the economic, political, and cultural disparity of Puerto Ricans. The authors explain the history of American imperialism in Puerto Rico and how Puerto Ricans have been mistreated in the United States, particularly in New York. Criticizing the Vietnam War, the authors suggest focusing the funding used abroad on community building.
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.
In this letter, John Lewis requests a loan for the amount of $10,000 from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference so that the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee can meet their payroll and cover pressing bills. He then speaks on the importance of continuous dialogue between the SCLC and SNCC.
In this article in the New York Amsterdam News May 25, 1963, Dr. King says that, through the ballot, Negro voters can change the political structure of the South. He states that for democracy to live, segregation must die; therefore, every form of nonviolent direct action will be used to dismantle it in the South, where it is visible, and in the North, where it is more hidden. Finally, he points out that modern psychologists use the term “maladjusted.” He is glad to be “maladjusted” to segregation, religious bigotry, economic injustice, and militarism.
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.
Roy Wilkins, Executive Secretary of the NAACP, applauds Darien's efforts to integrate minority and suburban communities through its exchange program with New York City. The program "sought Negro teachers, business and professional people to live and work in their community."
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 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.
John A. McDermott, Executive Director of the Catholic Interracial Council, writes to Al Raby and Dr. King. Mr. McDermott describes the Council's involvement with the Chicago Freedom Movement. Mr. McDermott also expresses his appreciation for Mr. Raby and Dr. King's support in the fight for fair housing legislation in Chicago. McDermott goes on to describe the Movement struggle with the controversial Atomic Energy Commission project in Weston, Illinois.
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. 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.