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Martin Luther King Jr. was not only a leader in the campaign to end segregation, but also a brilliant coordinator, working with national leaders from a variety of movements who were in solidarity with that struggle. The African-American community itself was complex and dynamic; within it there were leaders who represented a variety of perspectives and efforts directed towards justice, fairness and equality in the United States and around the world. This theme is intended to provide a selection of the documents that represent Dr. King’s engagement of intersecting social movements. It includes correspondence related to organized labor, black nationalism, pan-Africanism and peace organizations.
Sanford Kahn requests Dr. King's support for an effort to abolish the death penalty at the federal level. If given Dr. King's support, Kahn proposes listing the SCLC as a participating member of the ad hoc committee. If the SCLC cannot be listed, Kahn suggests Dr. King serve as an advisor.
Dr. King presents a speech at the United Auto Workers Convention in May 1961, which acknowledges the new challenges faced by factory workers because of technological advances that threaten to leave them jobless. He draws a parallel between the plight of auto workers and the Negro experiences of disenfranchisement in the US to highlight the potential for alliance between the two groups.
Presiding Bishop of The Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, P. Randolph Shy, declines Dr. King's invitation to attend an upcoming convention. Bishop Shy mentions that he will make a contribution "through our churches to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference."
In this letter A. Philip Randolph asks Dr. King for contributions needed to carry out the work of the National Advisory Committee On Farm Labor (NACFL). Randolph states, "NACFL stretches its limited funds far, but now at this critical point we must ask for your support".
Arnold Aronson sends the agenda for an upcoming meeting for the Executive Committee of the Leadership Conference. Important topics of discussion include the Civil Rights Act of 1967 and the Freedom Budget.
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.
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.
Esther Jackson of the New York Shakespeare Festival sends Dr. King a "discussion letter" to raise the issue of desegregating the arts. Nationwide, new arts programs will emerge and existing organizations funded as part of "Great Society" programs. Jackson calls for an effort to prevent discrimination in such programs now rather than attempting to dislodge discrimination after it becomes further entrenched. She outlines the beginning of a response to the issue.
Mr. Armand writes Dr. King concerning the goals of The Haitian Community Center in New York City. The Center attempts to institute programming in order to alleviate the various difficulties of the Haitian community. Mr. Armand also invites Dr. King to speak at a distinguished event as an honorary guest.
Murray A. Gordon, a New York lawyer and national vice president of the American Jewish Congress, endorses the Bundy School-Decentralization plan. Mr. Gordon believes that the reform is essential to good education and assures teachers that the plan will not violate their rights.
The John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company is called to discuss racial discrimination. Ministers from Operation Breadbasket explain that they will commence an investigation to possibly eradicate the unequal employment practices of the company.
This news release outlines the events and participants for the Sixth Annual Session of the Progressive National Baptist Convention to be held in Cincinnati, Ohio. The theme of the conference is Spiritual Renewal in a Decaying Society.
In this New York Amsterdam News article of February 2, 1963, Dr. King mentions writer James Baldwin’s scathing indictment of the Christian Church and states that the Church has been complicit in the system of racial segregation or remained silent on racial injustice, the nation’s most urgent social ill. The church should be the headlight, he states, not the taillight and be true to the prophetic call for justice. King takes hope, however, having just attended the National Conference on Religion and Race in Chicago, which brought together Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish leaders.
James Bevel, national director of the Spring Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, offers insight into the purpose of the committee. The committee focuses on launching two mass demonstrations to stop the war, with the goal of "seeking to stimulate increased activity everywhere."