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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.
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.
Mrs. Coretta Scott King writes to the family of Dr. Thomas Merton expressing her condolences regarding his death. She explains that the tribute Dr. Merton paid to her late husband will never be forgotten and urges the family to remember that the spiritual bonds that exist between a family is eternal.
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."
During the year of 1967, Sargent Shriver served as Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity and created several community oriented programs. Shriver sends this telegram to Dr. King informing his support. Shriver appreciates King's ability to be forthright on the condemnation of lawless behavior and causes of social unrest. He agrees that "America must quickly develop and support adequate programs to remove these causes."
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.
Teachers and students from Tuskegee write members of the SCLC to express their support for the upcoming mobilization and Dr. King's stance on the Vietnam War.
Harry Van Arsdale, President of the New York City Central Labor Council AFL-CIO, informs Dr. King, who is in the Fulton County Jail, that ten thousand unionists in New York voted to support Dr. King's fight for "decency and democracy." The organization contributes $1000 to aid Dr. King in his efforts.
Andrew Young, Executive Assistant to Dr. King, writes the Swedish Ecumenical Council's Nils Sundholm, informing him that Dr. King can accept his invitation to host a worship service in Sweden in December as part of his trip to Europe.
The University of Michigan Young Republican Club informs Dr. King that they "deplore" the recent events in Selma, Alabama.
Dr. King was the recipient of this Western Union telegram from Rev. Loe Champion of the Milwaukee Operation Breadbasket, an economic project of the SCLC. Rev. Champion sent this telegram to show support for Dr. King's struggles in the South. The correspondence was sent two days after a march Dr. King led in Memphis, Tennessee in support of striking sanitation workers.
Dorothy Cotton, long-time colleague of Dr. King at Southern Christian Leadership Conference, congratulates Dr. King for being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Cotton was one of the only non-family members to subsequently accompany Dr. King to Oslo, Norway, for the prize ceremony.