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Telegrams

Since the 1800’s Telegrams have been responsible for relaying important and urgent information. Prior to telegrams, nearly all information was limited to traveling at the speed of a human or animal. The telegram freed communication from the constraints of space and time and truly affected how the world lived. In many ways telegrams can be thought of as an early form of Twitter. Similar to the restriction of 140 characters within a Tweet, writers of telegrams needed to be thoughtful in their message crafting and word selection. This was so both for economical reasons and the desire to speed the transmission of the telegram. For this reason, the messages within telegrams are often quite direct and strategic in their formation.

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Telegram from MLK to Robert Kennedy

Monday, June 4, 1962
Washington, D.C., Jackson, MS

Dr. King issues an urgent request for Robert Kennedy's immediate involvement in the prosecution of four students who were arrested while engaged in a peaceful demonstration in Jackson, Mississippi. Dr. King has also received information of gross violations of the students' constitutional rights.

Telegram from Dr. and Mrs. King to John H. Calhoun

Georgia (GA), Atlanta, GA

Dr. and Mrs. King deliver their condolences for the recent passing of Mason, brother of John H. Calhoun. The Kings informs Mr. Calhoun that he is not alone in his hour of mourning and that the community is also suffering this great loss.

Telegram from George Houser to MLK

Thursday, November 11, 1965
New York, NY

George Houser of the American Committee on Africa urges Dr. King to telegram the President about Rhodesia's unilateral declaration of independence. The Rhodesian government, under Prime Minister Ian Smith, took this illegal action to break from the United Kingdom after days of negotiation with British Prime Minister Harold Wilson. The British sought to give blacks a fair share of power.

Telegram from Governor Carl Sanders to MLK

Friday, October 15, 1965
New York (NY), Georgia (GA)

In this telegram, Governor Sanders informs Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that he will not be able to attend Ebenezer Baptist Church's Annual Layman's Day.

Telegram from King Children to Master Billy Watchel

Thursday, January 2, 1969
New York (NY)

The King children thank Billy Wachtel for the Christmas gifts he sent to them.

Telegram from MLK to Attorney General Robert Kennedy

Monday, July 8, 1963
Washington, D.C., Florida (FL), St. Augustine, FL

Dr. King sends Attorney General Robert Kennedy a copy of the telegram he sent to Vice President Lyndon Johnson. The city of St. Augustine, Florida refuses to desegregate its facilities, which Dr. King describes as a "denial of Negro citizenship."

Telegram to MLK from Truman B. Douglass

Thursday, November 24, 1966
New York, NY, New York (NY)

Truman B. Douglass, the chairman of the National Citizens Committee for the Child Development Group of Mississippi (CDGM), informs Dr. King that he has appealed to President Johnson for a meeting regarding the funding of CDGM.

Telegram from Stanley Levison to Coretta Scott King

Friday, January 17, 1969
ITALY

Stanley Levison warns Mrs. King about interceding between governments.

Telegram from MLK to President Eisenhower

Thursday, August 13, 1959
Atlanta, GA, New York, NY, Washington, D.C.

This is the text of a telegram Dr. King sent to President Eisenhower regarding the contemporaneous events of the opening of desegregated schools and the arrival of Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev.

Telegram from Mrs. Adams and Son to MLK

Sunday, September 21, 1958
New York (NY), New York, NY

Mrs. Adams and her son wish Dr. King a "speedy recovery."

Telegram from David Livingston to MLK

Thursday, October 20, 1960
Atlanta, GA, New York, NY, Georgia (GA), New York (NY)

David Livingston and Cleveland Robinson, on behalf of their district of the AFL-CIO, send encouragement to Dr. King.

Telegram from MLK to President Johnson on State of the Union Address

Wednesday, January 12, 1966
Washington, D.C.

Dr. King praises President Johnson for his State of the Union address. King expresses appreciation for Johnson's continued commitment to the Great Society, his call for legislation to protect those pursuing their constitutional rights and his pledge to work diligently to end the Vietnam War.

Telegram from Mrs. Ernest Bavely to MLK

Wednesday, October 19, 1960
Atlanta, GA, Cincinnati, OH

Mrs. Bavely sends a supportive telegram to Dr. King during his confinement at the Fulton County Jail. She assures him "children of tomorrow, tomorrow, and tomorrow, will inherit those values for which you are striving."

Telegram to MLK Regarding Honor Group MLK

Thursday, May 25, 1967
Ohio (OH), Cleveland, OH

In this telegram, sponsor Virginia Price Principal Clarence Fitch write to Dr. King to see if they can name Honor Group Martin Luther King a chapter of the National Junior Honor Society, at Roosevelt Junior High in Cleveland.

Telegram from MLK to Chris Folker

SWEDEN

Dr. King expresses enthusiasm regarding his upcoming trip to Sweden.

Telegram from Henrich Grueber to MLK

Tuesday, December 31, 1963
Berlin, Germany, New York, NY

Henrich Grueber, Dean of Berlin and Gloster B. Current, Director of Branches NAACP extends their gratitude to Dr. King on being named "Man of the Year" by Time Magazine.

Telegram from Ted Aretha to MLK

Monday, October 30, 1967
Birmingham, AL, New York (NY), Alabama (AL), New York, NY

Ted Aretha sends words of encouragement to Dr. King during his time in the Birmingham City Jail.

Telegram from Marshall L. Shepard to MLK

Wednesday, November 1, 1967
Alabama (AL), Philadelphia, PA, Pennsylvania (PA)

Rev. Shepard, pastor of Mount Oliver Tabernacle Baptist Church, offers words of encouragement to Dr. King, who is imprisoned in Bessemer, Alabama.

Telegram from Elizabeth Polste to MLK

Wednesday, December 28, 1966
Pennsylvania (PA), Philadelphia, PA

Mrs. Polste writes to Dr. King requesting a tribute for Emily Greene, who is also a Noble Peace Laureate and a founder of the Womens International League for Peace and Freedom.

Telegram from Lawrence F. O'Brien to MLK

Thursday, August 5, 1965
Washington, D.C.

Lawrence O'Brien, Special Assistant to President Johnson, invites Dr. King to the signing of the Voting Rights Act in Washington, D.C.

Telegram from MLK to John F. Kennedy

Washington, D.C.

Dr. King requests that President Kennedy give full consideration to judges William Hastie and Thurgood Marshall for appointment to the US Supreme Court.

Telegram from Charles Cogen to MLK

Wednesday, November 1, 1967
Washington, D.C., Alabama (AL)

Charles Cogen, President of the American Federation of Teachers, writes Dr. King a note expressing that there is national shame because Dr. King is in jail for defending constitutional rights. He also informs Dr. King that they are making their outrage known publicly.

Telegram from Frederick Dennard to MLK

New York, NY, New York (NY)

Reverend Frederick Dennard, Executive Director of the Harlem Interfaith Counseling Service, invites Dr. King to speak at a fundraising banquet.

Telegram from Nobel Committee to MLK

Wednesday, October 14, 1964
Atlanta, GA, Georgia (GA)

The Nobel Committee of Norwegian Parliament notifies Dr. King that he will be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 1964.

Invitation to SCLF Celebration from MLK

Tuesday, October 24, 1967
Atlanta, GA, Philadelphia, PA

Dr. King sent this telegram to 30 prominent members of the Philedelphia community, inviting them to join the Southern Christian Leadership Foundation in presenting the Star for Freedom to Harry Belafonte, Aretha Franklin, and Signey Poitier.

Telegram to W. L. James from Dr. and Ms. King

Monday, January 2, 1967
Atlanta, GA

Dr. and Mrs. King write Mrs. James expressing condolences following the death of her husband. Dr. James was a music educator at Spelman College and a 1923 graduate of Morehouse College . He served as Chairman of the Music Department at Spelman and Director of the Glee Club from 1933 to 1966. Dr. James died December 27, 1966.

Telegram from Rev. Ralph Abernathy to President Johnson

Wednesday, December 22, 1965
Washington, D.C., Texas (TX), New York (NY)

Rev. Abernathy urges President Johnson to meet with a group of poverty-stricken people from Syracuse, New York at Johnson's Texas White House.

Telegram from Joseph Anderson to MLK

Philadelphia, PA, Pennsylvania (PA)

Joseph Anderson urges Dr. King to "call forth a day of prayer" to ease the uproar, most notably overshadowing such U.S. cities as Detroit and Newark during the long, hot summer of 1967.

Telegram from MLK to Fred Shuttlesworth

Cincinnati, OH, Ohio (OH)

Dr. King provides support and encouragement to Rev. Shuttlesworth.

Telegram from MLK to Terry Shaw

Thursday, July 1, 1965
Selma, AL, Atlanta, GA

Dr. King telegrams Terry Shaw stating that the staff of SCLC sends their "deepest sympathy" in his time of grief.