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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 University of Michigan Young Republican Club to MLK

Michigan (MI), Selma, AL, Alabama (AL)

The University of Michigan Young Republican Club informs Dr. King that they "deplore" the recent events in Selma, Alabama.

Telegram to MLK Regarding a Social Eruption in Chicago

Tuesday, June 14, 1966
Chicago, IL

Junius Griffin sends Dr. King a typed version of his statement on the violence occurring in a predominately Puerto Rican neighborhood in Chicago. Through the incident, Dr. King notes the callousness of law enforcement in the area.

Telegram from the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party Chairman Guyot to MLK

Mississippi (MS), Jackson, MS

The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party Chairman expresses concern regarding the SCLC's exclusion of "indigenous people of various political orientation in preparing the program" for the annual convention held in Jackson, MS.

Telegram from MLK to Honorable Daniel Evans

Washington (WA), Atlanta, GA

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 MLK to Edward M. Kennedy

Washington, D.C.

Dr. King expresses his gratification to Senator Edward M. Kennedy for sponsoring the amendment to abolish the poll tax in state elections.

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 I.W. and Helen Grizzard to MLK

Tuesday, October 31, 1967
Alabama (AL), Nashville, TN

I.W. and Helen Grizzard encourage Dr. King to "endure to the end in God's loving light" while King is in jail in Bessemer, Alabama.

Telegram from Civil Rights Leaders to President Kennedy

Monday, September 16, 1963
Washington, D.C., Atlanta, GA, Birmingham, AL, Georgia (GA), Alabama (AL)

Members of the SCLC and prominent civil rights leaders request an immediate conference with President John F. Kennedy regarding the 1963 Birmingham church bombing.

Telegram from MLK to President Johnson about Howard Address

Monday, June 7, 1965
Washington, D.C.

Dr. King writes to President Lyndon B. Johnson expressing appreciation and admiration for his speech at the Howard University Commencement.

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 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 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 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 Georgiana Hardy to Dora McDonald

Wednesday, August 7, 1963
California (CA), Los Angeles, CA, Georgia (GA), Atlanta, GA

Georgiana Hardy, president of the Los Angeles City Board of Education, requests a meeting with Dr. King's upon his upcoming visit to California.

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 Coretta Scott King to the Family of Dr. Thomas Merton

Tuesday, December 17, 1968
Louisville, KY

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.

Telegram from Mrs. Frances Lucas to C. T. Vivian and Alvin Pitcher

Thursday, January 9, 1969
Chicago, IL, Atlanta, GA

Mrs. Lucas informs Mr. Vivian and Mr. Pitcher of Mrs. King's unavailability to speak at the YMCA in Chicago. A memorial service in honor of Dr. King is scheduled on the same date in Atlanta.

Telegram To Dr. King Awarding A Grant

Thursday, June 29, 1967
Washington, D.C.

In this telegram to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mr. Roberts of the Contracts Branch US Office of Education informs Dr. King that his proposal entitled, "A Demonstration - Basic Adult Education Project for Urban Negroes," has been approved.

Telegram from J.C. Willimas and George Moore to the National Education Association of America

Tuesday, October 24, 1967
Atlanta, GA, Washington, D.C.

Mr. Williams writes to the National Education Association of America requesting an immediate investigation take place on behalf of the Atlanta School System. He suggests that discriminatory practices are present.

Telegram from Muhammed Speaks Newspaper to MLK, Sr.

Tuesday, April 30, 1968
Chicago, IL, Atlanta, GA, Illinois (IL), Georgia (GA)

Muhammed Speaks Newspaper contacts Martin Luther King, Sr. to confirm the presentation of a portrait of Dr. King, which is a gift of Muhammad Ali.

Telegram from Rev. Harold Carlson to MLK

Thursday, September 19, 1963
California (CA), Atlanta, GA, Georgia (GA)

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

Telegram Plea to Dr. King

Friday, March 29, 1968
California (CA)

An American citizen writes Dr. King pleading for him not to blame whites for all of the misunderstandings in the US.

Telegram from MLK to President Johnson on Home Rule

Washington, D.C.

Dr. King urges President Johnson to support the administration bill on Home Rule for Washington, D.C. rather than pursue a compromise.

Telegram from Dr. K.O. Mbadiwe to MLK

Friday, November 3, 1967
Texas (TX), Atlanta, GA, New York, NY, San Francisco, CA

Dr. Nbadiwe requests a meeting with Dr. King regarding a new proposal for the Nigeria-Biafra situation. After two coups earlier that year in Nigeria, Biafra seceded and civil war erupted.

Telegram from A. G. Downing to MLK

Monday, October 19, 1964
Los Angeles, CA, California (CA)

A. G. Downing, executive secretary of the Southern California Baptist Convention, congratulates Dr. King on receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.

Telegram from Bishop James K. Mathews to MLK

Friday, June 14, 1963
Boston, MA, Birmingham, AL

Telegram from Bishop James K. Mathews to Dr. King congratulatiing him on his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail."

Telegram from Dr. and Mrs. King to the Harris Family

Albany, GA

Dr. and Mrs. King send condolences to Katie Harris upon the passing of Alphonso. The Kings remembered Alphonso as "a great and dedicated worker in the struggle for freedom and human dignity."

Telegram From Alice Rewald to Dora McDonald

Thursday, September 7, 1967
New York, NY

Alice Rewald writes to Dora McDonald in an attempt to meet with Dr. King before departing for France.

Telegram from Donna Jean Stancliff to MLK

Thursday, December 28, 1967
Washington, D.C., Norfolk, VA, Atlanta, GA

Donna Jean Stancliff informs Dr. King of Mrs. Zelma G. Proctor's funeral.

Telegram from L. M. McCoy to MLK

Friday, May 12, 1967
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, BRAZIL, New York (NY), New York, NY, Atlanta, GA

L. M. McCoy telegrams Dr. King expressing the urgency that the Methodist Church of Brazil receive a reply to their invitation for him to speak at their Centennial celebration in Brazil.