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Abernathy, Ralph

b. 1926 - d. 1990

A native of Linden, Alabama, Rev. Ralph David Abernathy was pastor of First Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, when he began working with Dr. King, other church ministers and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) officers to organize the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Following this event, Dr. King and Rev. Abernathy co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) with other African American clergymen and later engaged in numerous civil rights campaigns until Dr. King’s death. By 1962, Rev. Abernathy had moved to Atlanta to serve as senior pastor of West Hunter Street Baptist Church and to be closer to SCLC, which he would later lead. Dr. King honored Rev. Abernathy in his famous “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” address calling him “the best friend I have in the world.”

Associated Archive Content : 262 results

Institute of Non-Violence and Social Change: Reformation for Freedom

This 1957 program with the theme "Dignity with Humility, Love with Courage and Justice without Violence" details an event of the Institute of Non-Violence and Social Change, in which Dr. King is featured as a guest speaker. Though his affiliation is listed as President of Montgomery's Improvement Association, Dr. King appeared as leader of the nascent Southern Christian Leadership Conference, formed January 10, 1957.

Letter from Andrew Young to James Bevel and Dave Delliger

Andrew Young writes Revered James Bevel and Mr. Dave Dellinger confirming Dr. King's acceptance to speak at a rally in New York, New York on April 15th. Young further addresses logistical issues that may arise in the execution of the event, as well as how to best increase participation.

Letter from Asbury Howard to MLK

Asbury Howard, Vice President of the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers, informs Dr. King of the harassment and attacks their union has endured for several years. He explains the 1949 indictment of officers from the union on charges of "falsely signing non-Communist affidavits." The case was dormant until government brought the case to trial in 1959 during a strike of 40,000 allied worker and copper miners. Howard cites this as evidence of union busting. He requests Dr. King's commentary and encloses a pamphlet regarding the case.

Letter from Barbara Meredith to MLK

Barbara Meredith communicates with Dr. King during his incarceration in the Birmingham jail. She does not understand why individuals professing to be Christians approve of segregation. Meredith offers her prayers to Dr. King, Ralph Abernathy and others in the midst of the struggle to end segregation.

Letter from Benjamin Conklin to Rev. Abernathy

Mr. Conklin writes this letter urging Rev. Abernathy to rethink the decision to proceed with the Peoples March on Washington. He is concerned that with the recent assassination of Dr. King this action will only alienate Congress and the American public. Hence the march could cause more bloodshed.

Letter from Bette Zugerman to Rev. Abernathy, SCLC

Ms. Zugerman writes Reverend Abernathy to introduce an enclosed document which she suggests is the "one and only non-violent answer to alleviate the suffering of all people."

Letter from C. M. Williams to Ralph David Abernathy

In this letter, addressed to Reverend Ralph Abernathy, supporter C.M. Williams references Dr. King's funeral and requests a copy of his last speech. Many sympathizers and mourners wrote letters like this to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference after Dr. King's assassination.

Letter from Carolyn Martinelli to Ralph Abernathy After the Death of MLK

Mrs. Martinelli writes Rev. Abernathy in the month following Dr. King's death, encouraging him to continue promoting a philosophy of love and equality. Martinelli identifies herself as a white housewife, teacher and mother of two, who has only known three Negroes in her whole life. . Although she has never known poverty, her desire is for all Americans to know the truth and work to resolve these problems in society.

Letter from Charles Henry to Ralph David Abernathy

Mr. Henry chastises Rev. Abernathy for an adverse comment he made towards White people. As a negro, he urges that the only way to get White people to stop name calling names is for Negroes to do the same.

Letter from Chauncey Eskridge to Reverend Allen L. Johnson

Chauncey Eskridge informs Reverend Johnson that he has sought information from Jack H. Young and R. Jess Brown regarding the posting of bond money.

Letter from Dale Rickmon to Rev. Abernathy

This letter of condolence is addressed to the Reverend Abernathy as the succeeding head of the SCLC. It accompanies a memorial poem written in dedication to Dr. King.

Letter from David M. Wallace to Dora McDonald

David Wallace writes Dora McDonald and attaches contributions from Negro businessmen involved with Chicago's Operation Breadbasket.

Letter from E.E.H. to Reverend Ralph Abernathy

The author of this letter speaks out against the efforts of Reverend Abernathy, calling the March on Washington a cheap show and calling for an end to civil rights demonstrations in general.

Letter from Ervin R. Meyer to Reverend Ralph D. Abernathy

Ervin R. Meyer informs Reverend Ralph D. Abernathy that he is against the Poor People's March on Washington. Mr. Meyers perceives these demonstrations as attracting "law breakers" that do not reflect Christian actions. The author identifies additional organizations and expresses their opposition to the SCLC's Christian mission.

Letter from Eugene G. Huston to Ralph Abernathy

Mr. Huston writes to request that the photos of Mrs. King and her daughter which appear on the cover of Life Magazine, April 1968 be widely distributed. Huston believes that if this is done the larger public will be just as moved as he was and further serve to promote the memory of Dr. King.

Letter from F. N. Campbell to Ralph David Abernathy

In this letter F. N. Campbell commends Abernathy for his dignified and effective handling of the first phase of the People's March in Washington, DC. It is his hope to utilize the climate of response following Dr. King's assassination. To this end, he proposes the establishment of a foundation in memory of Dr. King.

Letter from Grace M. Meade to Ralph Abernathy

This message from Grace Meade to Ralph Abernathy relates the details of a Seattle, Washington funeral service conducted for Dr. King.

Letter from Grace Newman to Rev. Abernathy

Ms. Grace Newman, National Chairman of the Fort Hood Three Defense Committee, informs Rev. Abernathy of her support of his leadership in SCLC. In honor of her pledge to Dr. King, she promises to continue working to organize poor communities in Puerto Rico.

Letter from Harris Wofford to MLK and Ralph Abernathy

Harris Wofford, civil rights supporter and friend of Dr. King, proposes "the right next step" for King and the Montgomery Improvement Association. He suggests round-table conferences composed of white and Negro ministers, an idea inspired by the efforts of Gandhi.

Letter from Henry Moon to Rev. Abernathy concerning "In Memoriam" Reproductions

This letter from Henry Lee Moon to Rev. Abernathy, accompanies enclosures of reproductions of documents associated with the "In Memoriam" sections of various newspapers in the aftermath of Dr. King's assassination.

Letter from Hosea Williams to MLK

Hosea Williams submits his resignation as a staff member of the SCLC. He also requests a meeting with the Steering Committee and Dr. King to discuss unfinished items related to the SCLC.

Letter from Hubert Reaves to Ralph Abernathy

Rev. Ralph Abernathy was the recipient of this letter from a prison inmate. The author also makes a request for an SCLC membership form and a picture of Dr. King, as a keepsake.

Letter from J. Herbert May to Ralph Abernathy

Herbert May discusses several points in which he disagrees with Ralph Abernathy on how to best reach a fully integrated and equitable society.

Letter from J.W. Augustus to Ralph Abernathy

The Ad Hoc Committee for Good Government of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, issued this letter to Rev. Ralph Abernathy requesting his assistance. Director of Political Action for the committee, J. W. Augustus, informed Rev. Abernathy of attempts by white city parish commissioners to buy the votes belonging to Negro political organizations.

Letter from John Lewis to MLK

In this letter, John Lewis requests a loan for the amount of $10,000 from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference so that the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee can meet their payroll and cover pressing bills. He then speaks on the importance of continuous dialogue between the SCLC and SNCC.

Letter from Lyman Farrar to Ralph David Abernathy regarding Advice and Counsel

Mr. Farrar writes to Dr. Abernathy for advice and cousel in an effort to contact Negro colleges in the United States. Mr. Farrar would like to make a personal contribution for a cause in which he explains in an enclosure.

Letter from Marc Steel to Rev. R.D. Abernathy about a Term Paper

Marc Steel, a high school sophomore from Maryland, wrote to Rev. Ralph Abernathy, requesting information on his role in the Civil Rights Movement. This student sought to acquire a narrative of Rev. Abernathy and his goals for SCLC, in order to complete a term paper.

Letter from Marguerite B. Pilling to Dr. Ralph D. Abernathy

Marguerite B. Pilling writes Dr. Abernathy to show her support of the Civil Rights Movement. She believes the Negro could actually bring the United States back to a time of decency by bringing back prayer in public schools and removing violence from TV.

Letter from Martha D. Kennedy to Ralph Abernathy

Mrs. Kennedy thanks Rev. Abernathy for the SCLC annual financial report and praises its contents. She also encloses a financial contribution and money for a copy of Dr. King's book "Strength to Love."

Letter from Mike Van Ryan to Reverend Ralph Abernathy

Mike Van Ryn addresses this correspondence to Rev. Ralph Abernathy with an enclosure of $20 for the work of SCLC.

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