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Spotlights

There are nearly a million documents associated with the life of Martin Luther King Jr. These pages will present a more dynamic view than is often seen of Dr. King’s life and times. The documents reveal the scholar, the father, and the pastor. Through these papers we see the United States of America at one of its most vulnerable, most honest and perhaps most human moments in history. There are letters bearing the official marks of royalty and the equally regal compositions of children. You will see speeches, telegrams, scribbled notes, patient admonitions and urgent pleas. This spotlight shows you a glimpse of the remarkable history within this collection.

The Strength of the Legacy

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In this New York Herald Tribune article, Dr. King refers to the recent 1964 Presidential election as a decisive repudiation of segregation and extremism. He claims the election results honored the memory of President John F. Kennedy, assassinated a year earlier. Kennedy’s greatest contribution to human rights, King says, was his televised appeal to the American people on June 19, 1963 describing equal rights and equal opportunity as a moral issue as old as the scriptures and as clear as the Constitution.

Sunday, November 22, 1964

Letter from Richard Nixon to MLK

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Vice President Nixon writes to Dr. King concerning the efficiency and effectiveness of the Civil Rights Bill. He expresses his gratitude for a previous correspondence from Dr. King and ensures his continued advocacy of civil rights legislation.

Tuesday, September 17, 1957

Reverend Ralph D. Abernathy's Statement Following MLK's Assasination

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Rev. Abernathy acknowledges the deep pain and anger those in SCLC feel at the senseless taking of Dr. King’s life. They pledge that his work and commitment to nonviolence will continue. They are as much against violence, says Abernathy, as they are against racial and economic injustice. He announces that Mrs. King will join him in leading a march in Memphis in support of the sanitation workers and that the Poor People’s Campaign will proceed. He calls upon Congress to respond to the major loss represented by Dr.

Sunday, April 7, 1968

This is Dr. King's official transcript from Morehouse College for 1944-1948

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This is Dr. King's official transcript from Morehouse College from 1944-1948.

Tuesday, November 7, 1950

MLK Public Statement on the Poor People's Campaign

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Dr. King announces several initiatives of the SCLC. He explains that due to severe displays of discrimination the SCLC and other organizations will continue the non-violent movement with a demonstration in Washington, D.C. Dr. King further paints the picture of inequality among the races by providing several illustrations of discrimination.

Monday, December 4, 1967

Program for SCLC Annual Freedom Banquet

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This program from SCLC's Tenth Annual Freedom Banquet features Senator Edward M. Kennedy as guest speaker.

Monday, August 8, 1966

Ebenezer Project Bill

Citizens Trust Company reminds the SCLC of an upcoming payment related to the "Ebenezer Project."

Draft of Dedication Page for "Why We Can't Wait"

This document is a rough draft of the dedication page of Dr. King's book "Why We Can't Wait;" the draft reveals Dr. King's wish for his children.

Photo of MLK and Mr. David

Mr. David sends Dr. King a picture displaying the two outside a Jackson, Mississippi Holiday Inn.

How My Theology Has Changed

Dr. King highlights seven main ways in which his theological views have changed since his final year at Crozer Theological Seminary.

Walk in Sympathy and Brotherhood

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This is the itinerary for the Walk in Sympathy and Brotherhood to Dr. King's funeral site. A group of bereaved citizens from Northeast Atlanta organized this walk to express human solidarity.

Monday, April 8, 1968

Postcard from Dekker Family

The Dekker family of Holland sends its support to Dr. King.

Sermon at The Washington Cathedral

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In a sermon written by Dr. King and addressed to an audience at the Washington Cathedral, the Reverend expounds upon the problem of poverty and war. In describing a projected human revolution, Dr. King states, "Somewhere we must come to see that human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability." This is just one of the many passages in this inspirational sermon encouraging hope and freedom for all.

Sunday, March 31, 1968

The Philosophy of Life Undergirding Christianity and The Christian Ministry

In this essay fragment from his Crozer Seminary days, Dr. King writes that Christianity is a value philosophy whose values are embodied in the life of Christ. He begins to spell out what those values are. The first, King states, is the value of the world as something positive and life-affirming, in contrast to the negative view of the world of the ascetics and religions of India. The second value is that of persons, who have supreme worth. People must be used as ends, never as means to ends, although there have been periods in history where Christianity has fallen short.

Speech to the Synagogue Council of America

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Dr. King receives the Judaism and World Peace Award from the Synagogue Council of America and uses the occasion to speak about the Civil Rights Movement and international peace. He laments the vehement criticism of dissent and discussion of the Vietnam War and enumerates reasons why the Hebrew prophets are so needed today.

Sunday, December 5, 1965

Dr. Spock, Dr. King and Rev. Rice Marching Down 5th Ave. NYC. April 15, 1967

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This photo comes from the Benedict J. Fernandez "Countdown to Eternity" portfolio.
(Copyright: Benedict J. Fernandez)

Saturday, April 15, 1967

A Christmas Sermon

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Dr. King discusses the topics of peace, the state of mankind, and his vision for the future during the delivery of this sermon to the congregation of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia.

Sunday, December 24, 1967

The Christian Way of Life in Human Relations

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Dr. King makes a speech to the National Council of Churches regarding the issue of American race relations. After school integration ... has noticed a radical change in the attitudes of African-Americans, ultimately giving birth to this mental and figurative notion of the "new Negro". He solicits the assistance and leadership of the nation's churches to take a firm stand against the rampant inequalities afflicting blacks are facing in America.

Wednesday, December 4, 1957

I've Been To The Mountaintop

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"I've Been to the Mountaintop" is the last speech Dr. King delivered. A day after making this address at the Masonic Temple in Memphis, Tennessee, he was assassinated on the balcony of his hotel room. Dr. King spoke of faith, nonviolent protest and his support of the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike. He urged both a march and a boycott against Memphis area businesses. Dr. King ended his speech by musing about his previous brush with death and other threats against him.

Wednesday, April 3, 1968

American Education: Segregation, Northern Style

This article from American Education focuses on the problem of de facto segregation in Northern and Southern cities that results from discrimination in housing and contributes to further housing discrimination and minority unemployment. De facto segregation is as detrimental as legalized (de jure) segregation. The author provides an overview of efforts around the country to eliminate segregation in public schools and some of the difficulties encountered.

Letter from Jay Richard Kennedy to MLK

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Jay Kennedy encloses a copy of a picture and a transcript from a television program that included Dr. King. He thanks Dr. King for an earlier letter and explains that their views are aligned. Kennedy also briefly discusses civil rights in America and the federal government.

Monday, October 28, 1963

ABC's Issues and Answers: MLK Interview

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Dr. King sat down with Tom Jerriel, Atlanta Bureau Chief, and John Casserly, Washington Correspondent, of the American Broadcasting Company for their program "Issues and Answers." They discussed the civil rights movement, Dr. King's upcoming book, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that Dr. King would serve jail time in Birmingham.

Sunday, June 18, 1967

Dexter Avenue Baptist Church Annual Report, 1955-1956

This report contains vital information concerning the organizational structure, services, and members of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. Dr. King provides a heartfelt address to the Montgomery, AL congregation as he seeks to extend the church's influence throughout the community amidst his growing involvement in the Civil Rights Movement.

MLK's Transcript from Crozer Theological Seminary

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In 1948, Dr. King entered Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania. Engaging in a sincere quest for knowledge, he sought stimulation in the works of several prominent areas, like philosophy and theology. As a result of his efforts and achievements at Crozer, Dr. King was chosen as the Valedictorian of the graduating class of 1951.

Wednesday, December 6, 1950

Telegram from MLK to President Kennedy

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Dr. King recommends that President John F. Kennedy consider William H. Hastie and Thurgood Marshall for appointment to the US Supreme Court.

Thursday, March 29, 1962

Preferred Risk Mutual Insurance Company

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The manager of Preferred Risk Mutual Auto, D.G. Witt, sends an insurance renewal request to Dr. King with policies and surcharge information. He explains that the companies decision to renew his policy was one of deep consideration due to the numerous car accidents during Dr. King's policy with the company.

Monday, April 3, 1967

A Tough Mind and A Tender Heart

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An early foreshadowing of his nonviolent philosophy, Dr. King advises Negroes of a particular course of action they should adhere to in order to properly equip themselves to combat racial injustice. Seeking to avoid both complacency and hostility, he challenges those who desire self-satisfaction, as well as those who seek to pacify their oppressors, by proposing the idea of one having both a tough mind and a tender heart.

Sunday, August 30, 1959

Request for Preliminary Determination of Eligibility - Nonprofit

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This document serves as a request to establish Ebenezer Baptist Church as a Non-Profit Sponsor or Mortgagor.

Tuesday, November 7, 1967

SCLC Tenth Anniversary Convention

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A program outlining the course of events for the 10th Anniversary Convention of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Monday, August 14, 1967

Appeal from Wyatt Tee Walker for Albany Support

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Following the arrests of Dr. King and three others who held a prayer vigil at the Albany, Georgia City Hall, Rev. Wyatt Tee Walker issues this appeal for support from those active in the civil rights movement. He calls for telegrams to be sent to federal, state, and local officials, prayer vigils, and the wearing of black armbands.

Wednesday, July 25, 1962

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