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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.

Address by Jackie Robinson at SCLC Freedom Dinner

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Guest speaker Jackie Robinson discusses his personal struggles with adopting the philosophy of nonviolence, race relations and the far-reaching efforts of the SCLC.

Tuesday, September 25, 1962

The False God of Money

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This sermon titled "The False God of Money" was preached by Dr. King on July 19, 1953. Dr. King raised a question to his congregation stating, "Will you serve the transitory god of money which is here today and gone tomorrow or will you serve the eternal God of the universe who is the same yesterday, today and forever?"

Sunday, July 19, 1953

Letter from W. C. Akers to MLK

W. C. Akers expresses his concern about Dr. King's support of Adam Clayton Powell.

St. Augustine, Florida: 400 Years of Bigotry and Hate

The SCLC compiled and published this pamphlet about St. Augustine, Florida, describing a long history of racial discrimination and segregation supported by Northern tourism.

MLK Remarks on Negro Press Week

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In this transcribed radio address, Dr. King describes how future generations will remember the 20th century as a time where righteous people fought for social, economic, and political freedom. Dr. King also states that the African-American fight for true citizenship is not only a part of American heritage, but also the story of people everywhere who struggle for dignity and freedom. Dr. King made this radio address for Negro Press week a the request of Louisville Defender Editor and National Newspaper Publishers Association board member Frank Stanley.

Monday, February 10, 1958

New Wine in Old Bottles

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In a New Year's sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Dr. King addresses Matthew 9:17. His explains that new ideas or inspiration cannot thrive in closed minds or old structures, such as the idea of equality in a segregated society. While Victor Hugo's "idea whose time has come" may be here, Dr. King says, we need to "help time" and overcome the initial resistance to new ideas with persistence and a transformation of the old structures.

Sunday, January 2, 1966

Letter From Vice President Johnson to MLK

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Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson wrote this note to Dr. King to respectfully decline his invitation to a luncheon and to serve on the board of directors of the Gandhi Society for Human Rights. He states he enjoyed their last meeting and is looking forward to the next one.

Friday, April 27, 1962

Birmingham Desegregation Settlement Agreement

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Dr. King reviews the settlement made between the City of Birmingham and civil rights protesters. This agreement includes the integration of lunch counters, sitting rooms, restrooms, and water fountains within ninety days.

Friday, May 10, 1963

A Look To The Future

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For the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Highlander Folk School, Dr. King delivers the speech "A Look To The Future." He uses a timeline to explain the adversities African Americans endured to gain recognition as American citizens. He also points out the efforts of the Ku Klux Klan and the White Citizens Councils to make African Americans second class citizens. Lastly, Dr. King points out that America should be more maladjusted in order to avoid failing to cope with the demands of the normal social environment.

Monday, September 2, 1957

Telegram from President Kennedy to MLK

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

MLK Examination Book for Bible Course

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Dr. King answers a number of questions for an exam in his Bible course. He covers diverse topics, including prophecy and the Book of Job.

Tuesday, March 26, 1946

What's Your Brotherhood Quotient?

National Comics Publications, Inc. publishes this questionnaire as a public service to gauge the attitudes of readers while also enlightening readers about their own xenophobic perceptions. The writer asserts that it is okay to dislike vegetables or insects, but to dislike people is to "hurt them and cheat yourself."

Letter from Yousuf Karsh to MLK

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Yousuf Karsh congratulates Dr. King on receiving the Nobel Peace Prize Award. In addition, Mr. Karsh informs Dr. King that his wife attended Antioch College at the same time as Mrs. King.

Wednesday, October 21, 1964

Telegram from MLK to Senator Robert Kennedy

Dr. King praises Senator Kennedy's efforts toward abolishing the poll tax in state elections.

Letter from A. Phillip Randolph to MLK

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Mr. Randolph addresses his concerns with current events that could potentially harm the Civil Rights Movement. His list of developments includes Malcolm X's promotion of rifle clubs, the use of propaganda tactics to separate white people from the Civil Rights Movement, the increasing totalitarian influence on protest groups in northern cities and demagogic leadership that creates confusion and frustration. Mr. Randolph requests a meeting to discuss how to address these issues.

Tuesday, April 7, 1964

NAACP Fight For Freedom Fund and Awards Dinner

Dr. King gives the address at the 1962 NAACP Fight for Freedom Fund and Awards Dinner held at Morehouse College. Coretta Scott King is the soloist.

Letter from MLK to Attorney General Robert Kennedy

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Dr. King writes to Attorney General Robert Kennedy requesting an investigation in Williamston, NC to relieve the Negro community from violence and "unconstitutional police action."

Tuesday, March 31, 1964

Norwegian Peace Initiative

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Five Norwegians concerned about the Vietnam conflict propose that winners of the Nobel Peace Prize form a negotiating delegation to visit the US and Hanoi governments.

Friday, January 6, 1967

Letter from Stuart E. Atkinson to the SCLC

Stuart E. Atkinson sends a donation to the SCLC and requests the address to which he should send donated clothing and toys.

An Interview With MLK

A young student from Towns Elementary School in Atlanta interviews Dr. King for a class assignment. The student asks important questions relating to Dr. King's family background, career in ministry and his influence in the civil rights movement. When asked about being the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, Dr. King responds by saying, "It is more of a tribute to the thousands of gallant people who have participated in the struggle for equality, and who have done it in a peaceful, courageous manner."

Appeal to the President of the United States

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This document, prepared for the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, serves as a plea to President Kennedy and a legal brief. The plea is to use the centennial as an opportunity to "rededicate" the nation to the principles embedded in the Emancipation Proclamation; to make an executive order to end all statutory segregation and discrimination in the states; and to exercise full leadership protecting civil rights, including the use of force, if nonviolent methods fail.

Thursday, May 17, 1962

Transformed Nonconformists Sermon Outline

In this brief outline for a sermon based on Romans 12:2, Dr. King asserts that Christians are citizens of two worlds, those of time and eternity. They are in the world, but not of it. In a generation of the mass mind, they are called to live differently – to make history not be made by history. But nonconformity in itself is not good; there must be a mental transformation. The world is on the brink of moral and physical destruction and the need of the hour is for nonconformists to materialism, nationalism and militarism.

Statement on the Indictment of MLK

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The "Committee to Defend Martin Luther King, Jr." issued this statement, accusing the state of Alabama of falsely distorting Dr. King's 1958 income tax return in an attempt to indict him.

Thursday, March 3, 1960

Letter from Bayard Rustin to MLK

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Bayard Rustin informs Dr. King that Sydney Vincent, the Executive Director of the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland, would like to gather the major Jewish organizational leaders to discuss Dr. King's work in Cleveland, Ohio.

Friday, July 7, 1967

March on Washington Address by Eugene Carson Blake

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Rev Dr. Eugene Carson Blake, Vice Chairman of the Commission on Religion and Race of the National Council of Churches, addresses the March on Washington. He states that if all the clergy and church members he represents and all of the Roman Catholics and Jews in America were marching for jobs and freedom for Negroes, the battle for civil rights would be won. Despite the pronouncements of the religious community, the churches and society are still segregated. “Late, late we come,” he says, and in a repentant and reconciling spirit.

Wednesday, August 28, 1963

Telegram from Nobel Committee to MLK

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The Nobel Committee of Norwegian Parliament notifies Dr. King that he will be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 1964.

Wednesday, October 14, 1964

Certificate Honoring MLK

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This certificate serves to honor MLK for his contributions "in the field of racial relations."

Friday, March 31, 1967

The Purpose of Religion

Dr. King argues that the purpose of religion is not to "perpetuate a dogma," but to create witnesses to the power of God. He also considers whether salvation comes from upholding a particular creed or whether it comes from an individual reconciling with God.

Sermon Introductions by MLK

Dr. King frames a series of introductions to sermons that includes such selections as Civilization's Great Need, Life Is What You Make It, and Why Religion?

MLK - Justice Without Violence

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Dr. King gave this 1957 address to the Institute of Adult Education at Brandeis University in Boston, Massachusetts.

Wednesday, April 3, 1957

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