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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 Elizabeth Polste to MLK

Wednesday, December 28, 1966

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 Leslie Dewart to MLK

Monday, July 19, 1965

On behalf of The International Teach-in Committee, Professor Dewart invites Dr. King to participate teach-in in Toronto.

Telegram from Roy Wilkins to MLK

Wednesday, October 11, 1967

Mr. Wilkins invites Dr. King to attend a meeting with Dr. K. O. Mbadiwe, former Nigerian Minister, and other Negro leaders in the United States to discuss the increasing conflict in Nigeria.

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 L. M. McCoy to MLK

Friday, May 12, 1967

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.

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.

Telegram from Winfield P. Woolf, Jr. to the SCLC Board of Strategy

Sunday, March 31, 1968

Just three days before the assassination, Winfield P. Woolf, Jr. asserts that removing Dr. King from the SCLC would be disastrous.

Telegram from Rev. Benjamin Bickers to MLK

Sunday, September 25, 1966

Reverend Benjamin Weldon Bickers sends his congratulations to Dr. King on his birthday and expresses his inability to be present during the celebration due to prior engagements.

Telegram To Dr. King Awarding A Grant

Thursday, June 29, 1967

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 Elizabeth J. Miller to MLK

Thursday, November 2, 1967

Elizabeth Miller, the Executive Director of the Christian Social Concern division of the American Baptist Convention, extends support to Dr. King while he is in the Jefferson County Jail in 1967. She expresses gratitude for Dr. King's leadership and commends him for his non-violent action.

Telegram from Josephine Jones to MLK

Ms. Jones, President of the Metropolitan Community Leaders, writes to Dr. King about Albert Shanker's stance on African American education.

Telegram from Rev. Ralph Abernathy to MLK

Monday, December 18, 1961

Rev. Ralph Abernathy sends best wishes to Dr. King and everyone affiliated with the Civil Rights Movement. Rev. Abernathy is disheartened because he is not present to assist with the movement, but assures Dr. King that he wants to be an active participant.

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

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 Bishop Ljungberg Dean Zetterberg to MLK

Thursday, October 15, 1964

Bishop Ljungberg Dean Zetterberg writes Dr. King on behalf of the Cathedral in Stockholm congratulating him on receiving the Nobel Peace Prize and invites him to attend a peace service.

Telegram from Richard C. Gilman to Dora McDonald

Saturday, November 12, 1966

Richard C. Gilman sends this telegram to Dora McDonald confirming Dr. King's speaking engagement at Occidental College.

Telegram from Terrence Hallinan to MLK

Tuesday, November 7, 1967

Mr. Hallinan requests Dr. King's assistance in aiding a service member undergoing a "court martial for refusal to go to Vietnam."

Telegram from MLK to Katie B. Whickham

Thursday, July 27, 1967

Dr. King welcomes Mrs. Whickham and the National Beauty Culturist League to Atlanta. He also thanks Mrs. Whickham for the support that her organizations has given to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

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 Mrs. King to Canon L. John Collins

Friday, January 3, 1969

Mrs. King confirms with Canon L. John Collins the dates of her visit to England.

Telegram from MLK to L. Venchael Booth

Dr. King congratulates Dr. Booth on receiving the Doctor of Divinity degree from Morehouse College.

Telegram from Roy Wilkins to MLK

Thursday, January 5, 1967

Roy Wilkins, the chairman of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, urges Dr. King to attend a special meeting in Washington, D.C. to plan a course of action on pending civil rights legislation.

Telegram from Icabod Flewellen to MLK

Wednesday, April 26, 1967

Icabod Flewellen welcomes Dr. King to Cleveland, Ohio.

Telegram from Selma Frazier to MLK

Wednesday, November 1, 1967

Selma Frazier and family send their support to Dr. King during his incarceration in the Birmingham jail.

Telegram from Nelson Rockefeller on Church Bombing

Monday, September 16, 1963

New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller comments on the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombings and expresses his sympathy to the families of the four children who were killed.

Telegram from MLK to President Johnson on Rhodesia

Thursday, November 11, 1965

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 L. V. Booth and Otis Moss to MLK

Dr. L. V. Booth and Reverend Otis Moss thank Dr. King and the SCLC for their efforts during the last ten years.

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

Monday, January 2, 1967

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 Text from MLK to USAG Robert Kennedy

Sunday, October 6, 1963

Dr. King requests that Attorney General Robert Kennedy intervene in New Orleans to prevent further intimidation of civil rights supporters by police.

Telegram from Walter Friedrich to MLK

Thursday, October 15, 1964

Walter Friedrich, on behalf of the Peace Council of the German Democratic Republic, congratulates Dr. King for receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.

Telegram from MLK to Attorney General Robert Kennedy

Monday, July 8, 1963

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."