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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 Roy Wilkins to MLK

Friday, October 21, 1960

Roy Wilkins sends a message of warm wishes on behalf of the NAACP to Dr. King while he is serving a sentence at the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta.

Letter from L. K. Jackson to President Kennedy

Dr. Jackson produces a copy of this telegram sent to President John F. Kennedy, in which he requests the president use his executive power to suppress violent racial tensions in the South. This telegram was prompted by the bombing of a church in Birmingham, Alabama that killed four little girls.

Telegram from MLK to Andrew Heiskell and A. Philip Randolph

Dr. King informs Mr. Heiskell and Mr. Randolph that he will not be able to attend the emergency convocation. He also notes why this convocation is needed.

Telegram to MLK from Kjell Eide

Thursday, January 26, 1967

Kjell Eide requests Dr. King's participation in a peace delegation regarding the conflict in Vietnam.

Telegram from W. L. Battle to MLK

Apostle W. L. Battle offers to sponsor Dr. King in a "preaching extravaganza and conference."

Telegram from Dr. Albert Davis to MLK

Wednesday, August 16, 1967

Dr. Albert Davis and the Atlanta Chapter of the NAACP praise Dr. King for his "continued leadership and revolutionary ideas."

Telegram from Lee C. White to MLK

Saturday, June 1, 1963

Lee C. White, Assistant Special Counsel to the President, informs Dr. King that President Kennedy is unable to meet on the suggested days due to his travels.

Telegram from Johnnie McKinney to MLK

Monday, April 5, 1965

Johnnie McKinney telegrams Dr. King to invite him to a fundraising event that is set to occur in Wyoming. McKinney states, "Wyoming needs you to make Reverend Reebs home state a real fortress of equality."

Telegram from Nelson Rockefeller to MLK

Thursday, March 18, 1965

New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller writes to Dr. King in appreciation for notice of the Selma to Montgomery March. He describes the leadership of Dr. King and others involved in the Civil Rights Movement as "the finest American tradition."

Telegram from Charles Cogen to MLK

Wednesday, November 1, 1967

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 King Children to Master Billy Watchel

Thursday, January 2, 1969

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

Telegram from MLK to Eartha Kitt

Thursday, May 16, 1963

Dr. King thanks singer-actress Eartha Kitt for her generous support and deep concern for the people of Birmingham, Alabama, and elsewhere in the South. He extends his appreciation to those in the Harlem Apollo Theatre who have contributed in response to her example.

Telegram from MLK to Joan Baez

Friday, December 29, 1967

Dr. King sends encouraging words to Joan Baez, an American singer and civil rights activist, who is imprisoned at Santa Rita Rehabilitation Center.

Telegram from George Garabedian to MLK

Sunday, July 24, 1966

Mr. Garabedian, a tourist agent in Jerusalem and Jordan, requests that Dr. King allow him to make accommodations for his upcoming trip.

Telegram from Mrs. J W E Bowen and Mrs. S F Crank to MLK

Wednesday, January 27, 1965

Mrs. J W E Bowen and Mrs. S F Crank write Dr. King expressing their joy in having a spiritual leader who challenges them to be active in the movement.

Telegram from NY Chapter of Americans for Democratic Action to MLK

Monday, September 22, 1958

The NY Chapter of Americans for Democratic Action sends Dr. King well wishes and hopes for a speedy recovery.

Telegram from Memphis Sanitation Workers' to MLK

Sunday, October 1, 1967

Members of the Memphis Sanitation Workers' Strike express an urgent need for Dr. King to travel to Memphis in order to aid them in their crusade.

Telegram from MLK to Elijah Muhammed

Monday, August 14, 1967

Dr. King commends Muhammad Ali's conscientious objection to the Vietnam War. He encourages Elijah Muhammed to convince Ali to speak at the upcoming Tenth Annual Convention of SCLC.

Telegram from MLK to Honorable Daniel Evans

Dr. King writes to the Honorable Daniel Evans requesting that he intercede in the controversy resulting from Washington State's conservation law and a 111-year old treaty.

Telegram from Mr. and Mrs. King to Mrs. A. B. Cooper & Family

Dr. and Mrs. King express their regret for being unable to attend the funeral; however, they offer condolences to Mrs. A. B. Cooper and family for the loss of their loved one.

Telegram from Committee of Concerned Mothers to MLK

Monday, February 22, 1965

The Committee of Concerned Mothers for Mrs. Malcolm X and Family writes to Dr. King requesting the SCLC to help assist Mrs. Malcolm X and her four children in the wake of her husband's assassination.

Telegram from Senator Percy to MLK

Saturday, June 3, 1967

Senator Charles H. Percy invites Dr. King to a private dinner to discuss innovative approaches for private sector involvement in the "urban problem."

Telegram from Margaret Saunders to MLK

Friday, October 21, 1960

Margaret Saunders sends a telegram to encourage Dr. King while he is in jail.

Telegram from Rev. Harold Carlson to MLK

Thursday, September 19, 1963

Reverend Harold E. Carlson sends words of encouragement to Dr. King. Carlson prays for continued strength and courage for King's "holy cause."

Telegram from Gordon Carey to MLK

Thursday, October 20, 1960

Gordon Carey of CORE wishes Dr. King well during his imprisonment in the Fulton County Jail.

Telegram from the Faculty of Howard University School of Law to MLK

The faculty of Howard University's Law School offers to assist Dr. King in the fight against social injustice in Alabama.

Telegram from C. C. Shell to MLK

C. C. Shells writes Dr. King suggesting that segregationist Lester Maddox run for President of the United State with Dr. King as Vice President.

Telegram from MLK to President Johnson about VISTA Director

Thursday, September 15, 1966

Dr. King writes President Johnson recommending that Dr. Maurice Dawkins become the new director of VISTA.

Telegram from Beryl Sacks to Dora McDonald

Thursday, December 14, 1967

Ms. Beryl Sacks inquires about the availability of Dr. King to speak for the Speakers Bureau Adult Education Council.

Telegram from Roy Wilkins to MLK

Roy Wilkins writes Dr. King requesting that Southern Christian Leadership affiliates overflow senators with messages promoting support.