Themes

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Intersecting Movements

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.

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Letter from Joan Daves to MLK

Tuesday, September 8, 1964
London, England, New York, NY, New York (NY)

This letter from Ms. Daves to Dr. King features requests regarding his itinerary for his trip to England.

King's Way Hurts Rights Movement

Washington, D.C., Massachusetts (MA), Illinois (IL), Chicago, IL

Mr. White, author of this article, argues that the political fallout from Dr. King's stance on America's involvement in Vietnam hinders the goals of the Civil Rights Movement.

A Statement to the South and the Nation

HUNGARY, Mississippi (MS), Atlanta, GA

The Southern Leaders Conference on Transportation and Non-Violent Integration issued this statement to the nation regarding the unresolved problems of civil rights. The leaders asked for all Negroes, particularly those in the South, to assert their human dignity and to seek justice by rejecting all injustices.

Philadelphia Chapter of CORE Flyer

Philadelphia, PA

This flyer encourages participation in the reformation of the Philadelphia School System.

Letter from the United Nations to SCLC

Friday, January 26, 1968
SOUTH AFRICA, New York (NY), New York, NY

The United Nations Special Committee on the Policies of Apartheid of the Government of the Republic of South Africa, requests information regarding activities planned and undertaken by the SCLC against apartheid.

Injunction from the City of Birmingham

Atlanta, GA, Ohio (OH), Cincinnati, OH, Alabama (AL), Birmingham, AL

Several members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, including Dr. King, receive a temporary injunction from the City of Birmingham.

"Outrage in Alabama"

Sunday, May 5, 1963
New York (NY), New York, NY, Alabama (AL), Birmingham, AL, Maryland (MD), Baltimore, MD, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference reprinted the article, "Outrage in Alabama," which was originally printed in The New York Times. The article describes violent acts against civil rights demonstrators discussing the flaws within the legal system.

Revolution in the Delta: Farm Hands Go on Strike

Mississippi (MS)

David R. Underhill discusses the strike of farm laborers in various Mississippi Delta cities. Underhill highlights strike procedures, methods, and locations.

Invitation to Harry Belafonte Concert

Friday, May 25, 1962
Johannesburg, South Africa, Georgia (GA), Atlanta, GA

Dr. King invites friends to a Harry Belafonte concert, which is a benefit performance for the SCLC.

MLK's Address About South Africa

Friday, December 10, 1965
South Africa, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, FRANCE, SPAIN, PORTUGAL, ANGOLA, MOZAMBIQUE, New York, NY, New York (NY), CHINA, UNITED KINGDOM, FORMER SOVIET UNION / USSR, INDIA, GERMANY, JAPAN

Addressing the apartheid situation in South Africa, Dr. King states that white rulers of South Africa, rather than black Africans, are "modern day barbarians." He continues to say that although black South Africans are the majority, they are oppressed by the minority. This is one of many occasions that Dr. King parallels racial injustices and views civil rights as an international issue.

A New South A-Coming

Alabama (AL), GEORGIA, South Carolina (SC), Tennessee (TN)

This pamphlet discusses the courageous stand of African American high school students against racial discrimination in the South. The efforts demonstrated by these young people to bring about change of many undemocratic practices were significantly noted in Negro history.

The Kinship Between the Labor Unions and Negroes

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.

Affidavit of Theo R. Wright

Friday, May 10, 1963
Birmingham, AL

In an attempt to redirect the focus of Negro students in Birmingham, Superintendent Theo R. Wright presents a sworn affidavit detailing his responsibilities and plans to revitalize the educational direction of Birmingham Public Schools.

Recent Court Guidelines Concerning Demonstrations

Tuesday, April 5, 1966
Mississippi (MS), Alabama (AL), Birmingham, AL, Montgomery, AL

This memorandum outlines recent legislation that permits "street demonstrations as an exercise of freedom of speech and of assembly." Specific court cases in the state of Alabama are also mentioned throughout the text.

Letter from Randall Elias to MLK

Thursday, May 27, 1965
Illinois (IL), Chicago, IL

Randall Elias offers the support of himself and the North Shore Chapter of Americans for Democratic Action for the civil rights march from Chicago to Springfield.

Letter from International Institute for Peace to MLK

Sunday, June 12, 1966
Geneva, Switzerland, VIETNAM, AUSTRIA

O. P. Paliwal and Yves Choliere, from the World Council of Peace, invite Dr. King to speak at a session in Geneva about the well being of Vietnam.

Letter from Helen Harrington to MLK with Poems

Thursday, February 8, 1968
Iowa (IA)

Helen Harrington writes to Dr. King to offer him the use of her poems in his writing and speeches. The poems, attached, are entitled 'Color Book,' 'Viet Nam,' and 'Two Prisons.' In a post script, Harrington urges Dr. King to run for president on an independent ticket, provided a peace candidate is not nominated by the Republican or Democratic parties, adding that she wants no more of President Johnson.

Telegram from Malcolm X to MLK

Tuesday, June 30, 1964
St. Augustine, FL, New York (NY)

Malcolm X offers Dr. King assistance with the situation in St. Augustine, including the organization of self-defense units.

Letter from Joan Baez's Law Firm to MLK

Wednesday, January 3, 1968
California (CA)

Singer Joan Baez's law firm expresses her appreciation for Dr. King's recent correspondence.

MLK Thanks a Contributing Author

Dr. King writes to Mr. Morrow thanking him for sending a written manuscript of Marrow's new book. He apologizes for being unable to fully assist him in his writing endeavors.

Telegram from Memphis Sanitation Workers' to MLK

Sunday, October 1, 1967
Atlanta, GA, Memphis, TN, Tennessee (TN)

Members of the Memphis Sanitation Workers' Strike express an urgent need for Dr. King to travel to Memphis in order to aid them in their crusade.

Letter from Franklin W. Thomas to MLK

Friday, June 2, 1967
Atlanta, GA

Franklin W. Thomas writes to Dr. King to apologize for the delay in honoring his participation in the Hungry Club Forum 20th Anniversary Series.

Letter from Esther Jackson to MLK

Monday, June 28, 1965
New York, NY

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.

Letter from George W. Chivers to MLK

Saturday, August 20, 1966
Pennsylvania (PA), Philadelphia, PA, Georgia (GA), Atlanta, GA, Alabama (AL)

George W. Chivers writes to Dr. King objecting to the Alabama law that disallows women from sitting as jurors. He compares this denial of women's civil rights to the injustices suffered by Negroes in Alabama.

An Appeal by Puerto Ricans for Fair Treatment

New York (NY), Brooklyn, NY, Chicago, IL, Connecticut (CT), VIETNAM, PUERTO RICO

This document reviews the economic, political, and cultural disparity of Puerto Ricans. The authors explain the history of American imperialism in Puerto Rico and how Puerto Ricans have been mistreated in the United States, particularly in New York. Criticizing the Vietnam War, the authors suggest focusing the funding used abroad on community building.

Letter from Leon Lowry to the King's

Saturday, December 8, 1962
Florida (FL), Atlanta, GA

A. Leon Lowry invites the Kings to speak at Beulah Baptist Institutional Church in Florida for their Men's and Women's services.

Telegram from Berry Gordy, Jr. to MLK

Detroit, MI, Michigan (MI)

President of Motown Record Corporation, Berry Gordy, Jr., awaits Dr. King's decision on the album, "The Great March on Washington."

Letter from Beresford Hayward to MLK

Wednesday, February 7, 1962
PUERTO RICO, CUBA, Washington, D.C.

Beresford Hayward, Planning Consultant of the Department of Education in Puerto Rico, writes Dr. King to inform him of the racial climate in Puerto Rico and its issue of Cuban immigration. Mr. Hayward also presents a comparison between the race issues inflicting Puerto Rico and the United States of America.

The Massachusetts Review: A Legacy of Creative Protest

Friday, September 7, 1962
Mississippi (MS), Albany, GA, Montgomery, AL, Massachusetts (MA), Georgia (GA), Alabama (AL)

Dr. King writes of the influence of Henry David Thoreau's essay on the duty of civil disobedience in forming his belief that non-cooperation with evil is a moral obligation. He cites lunch-counter sit-ins, freedom rides, and the bus boycott as evidence that Thoreau’s thinking is still alive. This article appeared in a special 1962 issue of The Massachusetts Review commemorating the centennial of Thoreau’s death.

Letter from Malcolm X to MLK

Wednesday, July 31, 1963
New York, NY

Malcolm X invites Dr. King, along with other Negro leaders, to give an analysis and a solution on the current "race problem" at a rally in New York on August 10th.