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Letter From Birmingham City Jail

Wednesday, May 1, 1963
Birmingham, AL, Alabama (AL)

Dr. King's famous "Letter from Birmingham Jail" is a response to a statement written by several Alabama Clergymen. In that statement, the Clergymen assert that Dr. King's methods are both "unwise and untimely." They brand him an "outside agitator" who should not be advocating the breaking of the law. Dr. King responds with this Letter and politely references Biblical, Classical and early American figures to counter the arguments of the Clergymen.

A Statement by Dr. King

Sunday, July 17, 1966
Chicago, IL

In a statement made in Chicago, Dr. King asks for the economic and social betterment of the individuals living in the "slums" of the city.

Letter from Dr. Alex Hershaft to MLK

Saturday, June 24, 1967
Massachusetts (MA), VIETNAM

Dr. Alex Hershaft writes to Dr. King to tell him he is happy to make a donation now that Dr. King has aligned himself against the war in Vietnam. Rather than having to choose between donating to civil rights or anti-war causes, Dr. Hershaft can donate to Dr. King and accomplish both.

Letter from Clarence Henry to Robert F. Kennedy

Friday, February 2, 1962
New Orleans, LA

Clarence Henry requests the immediate surveillance of Fred Shuttleworth's home by Kennedy's office in lieu of Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth's arrest.

MLK Outline of Biblical Texts

Dr. King outlines the Old Testament biblical book of Samuel and records information regarding the lives of Saul and David.

Operation Breadbasket Sends Telegram Regarding Employment Discrimination

Friday, November 10, 1967
Atlanta, GA, Georgia (GA)

Representatives of SCLC's Operation Breadbasket address the discriminatory employment practices of the Atlanta Metropolitan Area Civil Defense Council.

Letter from Nelson Rockefeller to MLK

Wednesday, February 5, 1964
New York (NY), New Hampshire (NH), Atlanta, GA

Nelson Rockefeller writes to Dr. King hoping to have lunch with his family at Pocantico Hills. His intent is to raise funds for the Urban League of Westchester County and the SCLC.

Western Union Telegram from Harrison Tweed and Bernard G. Segal to MLK

Thursday, March 11, 1965
Selma, AL, New York, NY, Philadelphia, PA, Montgomery, AL

Mr. Tweed and Mr. Segal urge Dr. King to observe Judge Johnson's order prohibiting marches to Montgomery, Alabama. They also enclose an excerpt of their telegram to Governor George Wallace compelling him to restrain law enforcement from excessive force.

Letter from Bayard Rustin to MLK

Monday, May 15, 1967
New York (NY)

In this letter, Mr. Rustin requests that Dr. King assents to being a member of the "Institute's Board of Advisory Directors".

Letter from Robert McDougal, Jr. to MLK Regarding a Donation Appeal

Tuesday, November 22, 1966
Chicago, IL, Selma, AL, Montgomery, AL

In this letter, McDougal acknowledges Dr. King's appeal of October 1965, however states that he is concentrating his donations on other organizations. On the letter there are handwritten comments regarding Dr. King's response.

Social Ethics


Dr. King cites the Old Testament biblical book of Exodus regarding social ethics.

Letter from Edward Thacker to MLK

Tuesday, December 5, 1967
Arkansas (AR), Hot Springs, AR, Georgia (GA), Atlanta, GA, VIETNAM

Edward Thacker, former State Commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars for Arkansas, expresses his disagreement with Dr. King's views on the Vietnam War. Thacker also contends that the eradication of poverty is an unrealistic goal.

Letter from MLK to Debbie Steiner

Tuesday, June 9, 1964
New Jersey (NJ)

Dr. King thanks Miss Steiner for her letter and explains how love is the way to overcome the injustices brought on by prejudice and ignorance. He writes that, though it can be difficult, she must direct her thoughts in a loving way towards those who mistreat her.

Letter From Carl H. Pforzheimer to MLK

Friday, June 30, 1967
New York, NY, Atlanta, GA

Mr. Pforzheimer expresses his appreciation for an inscribed copy of one of Dr. King's books.

Letter from Chauncey Eskridge to MLK about Court Case

Wednesday, November 29, 1961
Chicago, IL, Illinois (IL)

Chauncey Eskridge, Dr. King's legal counsel, sent this message requesting the signatures of Dr. King's parents on a legal document. The latter part of the message asks for Rev. King, Sr. to trust the expertise of Attorney Eskridge.

Telegram from President Kennedy to MLK

Washington, D.C., Birmingham, AL

President John F. Kennedy applauds the work of Dr. King and the SCLC on the occasion of the organization’s Sixth Annual Convention.

Letter from Mrs. Presley Layer to MLK

Tuesday, April 2, 1968
Florida (FL)

As a member of the Urban League and other civic organizations, Mrs. Layer expresses her concerns about the conduct of marches verses a more militant tactic. Mrs. Layer asserts that we live in a violent nation and is concerned that violent pacifist will become uncontrollable. She concludes with informing Dr. King she is an admirer and long supporter of the SCLC.

Letter from John Lewis to MLK

Thursday, October 15, 1964

While in Ghana, Mr. John Lewis congratulates Dr. King for receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. Mr. Lewis states, "the Nobel Peace Prize Committee had no choice but to select you for such an honor."

Notes on Literary Genre

"Every story has a plot, every story has a climax," writes Dr. King, in these handwritten notes to describe an unknown fairytale or some literary genres.

Letter from Benjamin F. Smith to the Editor of Detroit Free Press

Friday, March 31, 1967

In a letter to the editor of the Detroit Free Press, Benjamin Smith criticizes US involvement in Vietnam. He advocates ending the war as 80% of South Vietnamese people want peace, while 67% of Americans "favor a rough war."

Letter from Charles E. Waring to MLK

Wednesday, March 13, 1968
Minnesota (MN)

Calling himself "a pale face Christian," Charles E. Waring writes Dr. King to acknowledge that all Christians must aid African Americans in their fight for fair representation and respect as equal human beings. He denounces whites who condemn Dr. King and asks, "what can we white Christians do to help recover the leadership of the Negro cause to worthy men?"

To Set Our People Free


This poem by Mrs. Eudora V. Savage is dedicated to the African American veterans of World War Two.

Right & Wrong

Dr. King quotes James Martineau’s “Types of Ethical Theory, Volume II.”

Letter from Theodore E. Brown to Conference Participants

Friday, November 25, 1966
New York, NY, Washington, D.C., ZAMBIA

In this letter, Director Theodore E. Brown notifies the conference participants of the rescheduling for the Third National Biennial Leadership.

Coretta Scott King's SCLC Contributors Card

Atlanta, GA

This card reminds Mrs. King of her previous year's contribution and solicits her support for another year.

Letter from Robert Pritchard to The Benjamin Franklin Institute

Friday, April 7, 1967

As a result of being investigated by Mr. Aguiliar, a staff member of the Benjamin Franklin Institute, Robert Pritchard, writes the director of the institute expressing his grievances. A carbon copy of this letter was sent to the National Headquaters, SCLC and NAACP.

Draft Position Paper on Economic and Fiscal Policy

Saturday, April 1, 1967

The basis of this draft paper is about the proposed elimination of poverty in the United States within a ten-year span. A plan called the "Freedom Budget" has been endorsed by the A. Philip Randolph Institute. The premise of this paper is to "carry forward these developments in the economic and fiscal area, setting forth suggested policies which might be supported by all individuals and groups associated" with the goal of eradicating poverty in the United States.

Letter from Benjamin Mays to MLK

Friday, October 29, 1965
Atlanta, GA, Georgia (GA)

Dr. Mays writes to Dr. King regarding the new statement of purpose for Morehouse College.

Letter to Ralph David Abernathy from Allen L. Johnson

Tuesday, April 30, 1968
Mississippi (MS)

Southern Christian Leadership Conference board member Allen L. Johnson wrote this letter to Rev. Abernathy shortly after Dr. King's death. Johnson expressed his support of Rev. Abernathy's leadership of the organization.

Western Union Telegram from Barrington Dunbar to MLK

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

In this telegram, Barrington Dunbar of the peace and social committee from New York, informs Dr. King of the support from his religious society.