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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 Bea Stanley to MLK

Friday, November 3, 1967
Birmingham, AL, New York, NY

Bea Stanley writes to Dr. King during his confinement at the Jefferson County Courthouse Jail. Stanley informs him that many of his supporters and friends are concerned regarding his health and safety, and also updates him on the progress of one of his publications.

Telegram from W. L. Bentley to MLK

Philadelphia, PA

W. L. Bentley expresses to Dr. King that his ill health prevents him from being present. He also requests to enroll and would like to be forwarded the cost.

Telegram from Committee of Concerned Mothers to MLK

Monday, February 22, 1965
Atlanta, GA, New York (NY)

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 MLK to President John F. Kennedy

Friday, March 30, 1962
Washington, D.C.

Dr. King sends an urgent telegram to President Kennedy recommending Judge William Hastie and Judge Thurgood Marshall be given serious consideration for a seat on the Supreme Court.

Telegram from Oeberg Ruden Abrahamsson to MLK

Thursday, October 15, 1964
Atlanta, GA, Stockholm, Sweden, Georgia (GA), SWEDEN, London, England, UNITED KINGDOM

The Baptist Union of Sweden congratulates Dr. King on winning the Nobel Peace Prize. The group also invites Dr. King to Sweden.

Telegram from MLK to President Johnson on Rhodesia

Thursday, November 11, 1965
Washington, D.C., South Africa

Dr. King urges President Johnson to respond to the unilateral declaration of independence by Prime Minister Ian Smith of Rhodesia by withdrawing American officials, refusing diplomatic recognition and severing economic ties.

Telegram from Mr. Aubrey Williams to MLK

Sunday, October 23, 1960
Nashville, TN, Atlanta, GA, New Orleans, LA, Tennessee (TN), Louisiana (LA), Georgia (GA)

Members of the Board of The Southern Conference Educational Fund write to Dr. King and express their admiration for the stand he has taken.

Telegram from Lee C. White to MLK

Saturday, June 1, 1963
Washington, D.C.

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
Wyoming (WY), Atlanta, GA

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 Richard Beyer to MLK

Monday, May 17, 1965
Washington (WA), CANADA, Atlanta, GA

Richard Beyer telegrams Dr. King inquiring if he is available to speak at a peace rally in Washington sponsored by Canadian and Northwest Peace groups.

Telegram from Reverend Fred L Shuttlesworth to MLK

Friday, July 20, 1962
Cleveland, OH, Albany, GA, Cincinnati, OH, Ohio (OH), Georgia (GA)

Reverend Ralph D. Abernathy assures Dr. King that the nation extends their congratulations and prayer for his success. Reverend Abernathy asserts that as soldiers of freedom, they must "win this battle" for their country and that there "can be no retreat" in the movement.

Telegram to MLK from H. Rap Brown

Tuesday, June 13, 1967
Alabama (AL), Lowndes County, AL

Police brutality in the black communities of Prattville, Alabama prompts this request sent to Dr. King, which seeks immediate federal investigation and protection of black prisoners.

Telegram from the Students Union of Aarus University to MLK

Friday, October 16, 1964
DENMARK

The Students Union of Aarus University congratulates Dr. King for receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.

Telegram from UFT President Albert Shanker to MLK

Wednesday, September 13, 1967
New York, NY, New York (NY)

Albert Shanker expresses his appreciation to Dr. King for his support throughout the tumultuous 1967 education crisis in New York City.

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 from Dow Kirkpatrick to MLK and Mrs. King

Wednesday, January 27, 1965
Illinois (IL), Atlanta, GA, Georgia (GA)

Dow Kirkpatrick congratulates Dr. King and apologizes for his absence at the event.

Telegram from Prentiss Childs to Rev. Ralph Abernathy

Los Angeles, CA, Washington, D.C.

Prentiss Childs, producer of the CBS news program "Face the Nation," invites Rev. Abernathy to speak on the conflict in Vietnam.

Telegram from Thomas K. Gilmool and David N. Wice to Dora McDonald

Friday, October 13, 1967
Philadelphia, PA, San Francisco, CA, Pennsylvania (PA), California (CA), Atlanta, GA, Georgia (GA)

Mr. Gilmool and Mr. Wice write to confirm the date that Dr. King will be speaking at a dinner honoring Marjorie Penney.

Telegram from Lee C. White to MLK

Wednesday, September 18, 1963
Washington, D.C., Atlanta, GA, Birmingham, AL, Georgia (GA), Alabama (AL)

Lee C. White, Assistant Special Counsel to the President, confirms a meeting with President Kennedy and Dr. King to discuss the Birmingham bombing incident.

Telegram from Jacob K. Javits to MLK

Washington, D.C.

Amidst the confusion of varying interpretations, Senator Jacob K. Javits asks Dr. King to share his interpretation of the term "black power," so that it can serve as a guide to others.

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 MLK to Senator Aiken Regarding Housing

Washington, D.C.

Dr. King urges Senator George Aiken and other members of the Republican Party to support an open housing bill to promote better living conditions in Negro communities.

Telegram from Thomas Gedeon to MLK

Sunday, June 4, 1967
Cleveland, OH, New York, NY, New York (NY), Pittsburgh, PA

Reverend Gedeon, director of the Jesuit Retreat House in Cleveland, Ohio, writes to Dr. King concerning a proposed retreat program geared towards uniting religious and Negro leaders. Due to the lack of responses on Dr. King behalf, Gedeon terminates any further plans for the aimed program until further notice.

Telegram from Harry G. Boyte to Rev. John Papandrew

Florida (FL), Atlanta, GA, Georgia (GA)

Harry Boyte expresses his happiness that Rev. John Papandrew will be working with the SCLC.

Telegram from Thomas Kilgore to MLK

Atlanta, GA, Georgia (GA), New York, NY, New York (NY)

Thomas Kilgore, on behalf of Friendship Baptist Church, offers support to Dr. King concerning the downfall of discrimination and segregation.

Telegram from American Negro Leadership Conference on Africa to President Johnson

Tuesday, April 25, 1967
Washington, D.C., New York, NY, South Africa

Members of the American Negro Leadership Conference on Africa express their disapproval of South Africa's rule over South West Africa and ask for U.S. intervention.

Telegram from C. C. Shell to MLK

Georgia (GA)

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 Charles Webber to MLK

Washington, D.C.

Charles Webber, the AFL-CIO's representative for religious relations, sends this telegram of support to Dr. King during his incarceration.

Telegram from Reinhold Niebuhr to MLK

Friday, March 19, 1965
New York, NY, Alabama (AL), Montgomery, AL, Selma, AL

Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr regrets that a stroke prevents him from accepting Dr. King's invitation to participate in the Selma-to-Montgomery March and hopes there will be "massive" support.

Telegram from MLK to Muhammad Ali

Nevada (NV)

Dr. King sends a supportive telegram to Muhammad Ali. test