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O'Dell, Jack (Jack H.)

b. 1924

Hunter Pitts (Jack) O’Dell served in the Merchant Marines during World War II and was active with the National Maritime Union. He worked for a black insurance company in Alabama, where he heard Dr. King preach. In 1959 he helped Bayard Rustin and A. Philip Randolph with the Youth March for Integrated Schools. He worked for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) on mass-mailing fund-raising and voter registration, but his early affiliation with the Communist Party made him the focus of FBI investigations. Although O’Dell had later embraced nonviolence, pressure on Dr. King from the Kennedy administration and concern that allegations in the media would harm the freedom struggle led O’Dell to resign from SCLC in 1963. He and his wife subsequently moved to Canada.

Associated Archive Content : 10 results

A Thank You for Their Hospitality

Lawyer William Kunstler writes this thank you to Dr. and Mrs. King and discusses a few legal matters.

Agenda for the SCLC State and Local Leaders

This agenda outlines several topics discussed for the Southwide Meeting of State and Local Leaders. Dr. King, the President of the SCLC, spoke on SCLC's 'People to People' Program.

Draft of MLK's Public Statement Concerning SCLC Supporting Communism

Dr. King addresses the accusation in the New York Herald Tribune that some SCLC members support Communism. He also states that the SCLC has severed ties with former member Jack O'Dell, including the fundraising that had taken place in New York.

Letter from MLK to Eugene Saunders

Dr. King declines an invitation from Eugene Saunders to speak in Virginia for the Central Civic Forum. He refers Mr. Saunders to Jack O'Dell for voter registration literature.

Letter from MLK to Jack O'Dell

Dr. King requests that Mr. O'Dell makes a statement regarding the philosophy and methods of the SCLC. He explains the urgency of Mr. O'Dell's statement due to an investigation concerning O'Dell's Communist affiliations.

Letter from MLK to Mr. Jack H. O'Dell

In response to recent allegations, Dr. King and members of the SCLC Administrative Committee conduct a formal investigation on Mr. O'Dell's reported association with Communist affiliates. Dr. King regrettably informs him that due to this speculation, despite lack of concrete results, he must permanently resign from his position with the SCLC's New York office.

Messages From Dora McDonald to Dr. King

Notes from Dr. King's secretary, Dora McDonald, detailing phone messages from key movement stakeholders and colleagues.

MLK Comments on Jack O'Dell's Alleged Communist Ties

Dr. King attempts to correct the erroneous impressions created by various newspapers alleging Jack O'Dell's connection to "Communist" activities. While Dr. King maintains Mr. O'Dell's strong work performance, the Detroit native will relinquish his role "in order to avoid embarrassment to SCLC."

SCLC Answers Attorney General Cook

Mr. Clayton releases a statement concerning accusations made against Dr. King. In the statement, Georgia Attorney General Eugene Cook states that Dr. King refused to give him information him concerning a known communist named Jack O'Dell. Dr. King confirms that he has, in fact, cooperated with Cook and that O'Dell no longer works for the organization.

Statement From MLK In Response To Article Alleging Communist Ties

This press release issued by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference features a Statement by Dr. King responding to allegations that he and the SCLC has communist ties. Dr. King argues that the SCLC is grounded in the Christian non-violent movement with the intent of reform, wherease communism leads to violent revolution.