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Freedom Rides

Starting in 1961, civil rights activists rode interstate buses into the South to test the region’s refusal to adopt the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Boynton v. Virginia (1960) that segregation in public transportation violates the U.S. Constitution. On May 4, an integrated group of 13 Freedom Riders left Washington, D.C. on a bus to New Orleans. They were refused service in terminal restaurants and waiting areas, arrested and beaten by mobs while the police watched. Over several months, 60 integrated Freedom Rides took place with about 450 riders, supported by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). The national attention that the beaten and arrested riders garnered shook the nation, inspiring participation in civil rights campaigns across the country.

Associated Archive Content : 89 results

Letter from MLK to Michael J. Quill

Dr. King expresses his appreciation for Michael J. Quill's dedication to the "front lines" during a libel case. Dr. King informs Mr. Quill of the current status of the case and the courts response. He further provides Mr. Quill with the operations in the south and their deep involvement in the "Freedom Ride."

Letter from MLK to Philip Lubliner

Dr. King expresses gratitude for Mr. Lubliner's support during the "freedom struggle in the South."

Letter from MLK to Richard C. Ernst

Dr. King writes Richard Ernst and thanks him for his generous contribution which "has tangibly resolved a part of the difficulty we face in the legal defense of Rev. Abernathy." Dr. King highlights some the programs the SCLC has been able to implement due to contributions, such as the Citizenship School Training Center and voter registration drives.

Letter from MLK to Walter Everett

Dr. King writes Walter Everett regarding the libel cases of Rev. Abernathy, Rev. Shuttlesworth, Rev. Lowery and Rev. Seay. He thanks Mr. Everett for his support and informs him that they are "winning the victory" with his help.

Letter from Thomas G. Carson to MLK

Thomas G. Carson writes Dr. King as a white supporter of civil rights legislation, but fed-up with what he feels are the changing views of Dr. King and the riots "committed by Negroes in the name of civil rights."

Letter From William N. Goldsmith to MLK

William N. Goldsmith informs Dr. King of funds that were collected at Brandeis University for the SCLC. Mr. Goldsmith also apologizes for Dr. King having to bear so much of the load in Birmingham.

Manuscript by MLK dated 2/3/62 entitled "People in Action"

In this 1962 draft for his column in the New York Amsterdam News, Dr. King emphasizes that school desegregation and the Rosa Parks incident are crucial turning points in the Civil Rights Movement.

Membership Director's Report to CORE Convention

In this report to the members of CORE, Mr. Robinson outlines the goals for acquiring new contributing associate members and keeping the members they have. It is also concerned with increasing the amount of the donations. The report specifically focuses on membership maintenance, recruitment, growth and the impact of holiday cards.

Memorandum from James Framer to CORE Group Leaders

Jamer Framer, National Director of CORE, outlines several examples of legal and "extra-legal" harrassment of CORE and Freedom Riders by Mississippi officials.

Mission to Mississippi

The document, shown here, listed Dr. King and many other clergy as they invited other clergyman nationwide to an event called "Mission to Mississippi." The Mission was in support for the Freedom Riders of 1961. It included a one-day conference that was held in Jackson, MS. July 20, 1961. Unfortunately, this document was torn in half so the full remaining content continues, on the following attached page.

Mission to Mississippi : Invitation to a Conference

This document lists Dr. King and other clergymen as they invite selected religious leaders to a conference entitled "Mission to Mississippi." The Mission is in support for the Freedom Riders of 1961. It will be a one day event to be held in Jackson, Mississippi on July 20, 1961.

MLK Address at NAACP 53rd Convention

Dr. King delivered this address to the NAACP's 53rd Annual Convention held in Morehouse College's gymnasium in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. King argues that it is imperative to debunk the perceived myths concerning segregation and discrimination in order to foster a society free of racial inequalities.

MLK Address at the 53rd National Convention of the NAACP

This document is Dr. King's address to the 53rd Annual Convention of the NAACP in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. King discusses the following myths in this address: time will solve all problems, education can only solve problems of racial conflict, the Negro vote can do little to alter present conditions, and the practice of nonviolence is ineffective. Dr. King also speaks on "disunity," and states "the law may not make a man love me, but it may keep him from lynching me."

MLK Address to Southern Association of Political Scientists

Dr. King addresses the Southern Association of Political Scientists in November of 1964. This address consists of the accomplishments made because of the Civil Rights Movement and areas that society needs to improve upon.

MLK Address to the National Press Club

Dr. King gives an address to the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. He discusses his recent conviction for marching in Albany, the economic status of the Negro, racial issues, communism, the church, and the practice of nonviolent resistance. He states that the church is the most segregated institution in America. Dr. King also states that racial issues are a national problem and that the goal of the Negro is freedom.

MLK and New York Protest Meeting Speakers

The SCLC releases a statement to the media regarding Dr. King and other Southern leaders trip to New York to address a series of mass protest meetings. This document outlines a schedule of meetings and also announces that Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. and Actor Harry Belafonte will join the protest.

MLK Draft on Jackie Robinson and Hall of Fame

Dr. King highlights the achievements of Jackie Robinson in this article about Robinson's induction into baseball's Hall of Fame. Dr. King applauds Robinson for using his celebrity status for the Civil Rights Movement.

MLK Draft Text Retrieved by T.D. Johnston

The document is a dedication from T. D. Johnston of Huntsville, Alabama to the King Center. Mr. Johnston acknowledges being on an Eastern Airline plane with Dr. King in 1961, where he noticed that Dr. King tossed a speech text that he found. He decided to hold on to the document for preservation and donated it to the King Center. Martin Luther King, III received the document on behalf of the King Center.

MLK Speech at SCLC Staff Retreat

Dr. King addresses the staff of the SCLC at a retreat in Frogmore, South Carolina. He divides his speech into three parts: "whence we have come, where we have come, and where do we go from here." Dr. King thoroughly discusses his thoughts on Communism, the practice of nonviolence, the belief that racism is an "ontological affirmation,"and the weaknesses of Black Power.

MLK Statement before Platform Committee of the RNC

Dr. King lists the steps towards equality that have taken place all over the nation and he addresses the passage of the Civil Rights Bill. Dr. King explains what still needs to be done in order to make America truly the land of the free.

New York Times: The Case Against Tokenism

In this article for the New York Times, Dr. King writes of his experiences in an Albany, GA jail. Furthermore, he submits the idea that a delayed response to integration and equality for all is no longer acceptable due to the Negro having a "new sense of somebodiness."

Newsweek: Road to Selma - Hope & Death

Newsweek issues this synopsis of the 1965 voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery. The article illustrates the details surrounding the brutal racial murder of Viola Liuzzo, delving into the federal investigation of Mrs. Liuzzo's murder and its impact on the future passage of the pending 1965 Voting Rights Act.

One Vote for Every Man: Civil Rights Act

In this draft of an article for the March 1965 IUD Agenda, an AFL-CIO monthly publication, Dr. King recounts the progress made by the Civil Rights Movement and states that the issue in 1965 is the right to vote and the venue is Selma, Alabama. He discusses the pattern of exclusion, including the abuse of power by local sheriffs, illegal use of local and state laws, delay tactics of registrars, and literacy tests. He outlines measures that a Civil Rights Act of 1965 should include.

Outline of MLK's 1962 Address to NAACP

In Dr. King's handwriting, this outline is from a speech he later addressed to the NAACP, at its 53rd Annual Convention in Atlanta, GA.

Press Release Issued by MLK

The following document is a press release issued by Dr. King. In the first section, he comments on the success of various civil rights demonstrations across the nation. In the second section, of the press release, Dr. King makes a clear distinction between race riots and nonviolent movements in Alabama.

Ralph David Abernathy: A Man of the People

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference published this booklet profiling Ralph David Abernathy. The articles describe his background, how he got involved in the Civil Rights Movement and the future of the SCLC under his leadership.

SCLC Annual Meeting

This program outlines the schedule of events for SCLC's 1961 annual meeting.

SCLC Booklet

This booklet describes the programs and actions of the SCLC. It explains why it is a movement organization as well as defining the King-Abernathy tradition.

SCLC News Release on Voter Registration

This press release from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference describes Dr. King's prediction that many African-Americans would register to vote in the upcoming election. Dr. King also remarks that President Kennedy "has not lived up to his civil rights campaign promises."

SCLC Newsletter: April 1962

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference announces five new members will join the staff. The five men are: John H. Calhoun, Herbert V. Coulton, James L. Bevel, Fred C. Bennette, and Bernard S. Lee. These men derive from different locations across America and add different levels of education and commitment to the Civil Rights Movement.

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