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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Co-Op Movements for Black Economic Development

This memorandum sent to Dr. King by Professor St. Clair Drake, is a full proposal for the development/revival of the co-operative movements among negroes in large urban centers.

Telegram from Memphis Sanitation Workers' to MLK

Sunday, October 1, 1967

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 Sanford Kahn to MLK

Wednesday, December 21, 1966

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.

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.

Letter from Bishop P. Randolph Shy to MLK

Friday, August 11, 1967

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."

Letter from A. Philip Randolph to MLK about a Contribution

Thursday, March 9, 1967

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".

Letter from Malcolm X to MLK

Wednesday, July 31, 1963

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.

Letter from Mark Raphael to MLK

Mark Raphael, the President of the All-Square Student Congress Speaker's Bureau at New York University, invites Dr. King to talk about his priorities in America and plans for Washington.

Agenda for the Leadership Conference Executive Committee Meeting

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.

SANE Action: Citizens' Milk Strike

Friday, February 16, 1962

As an economic act against pollution and a nuclear war, the National Committee For A SANE Nuclear Policy stages a Citizens' Milk Strike.

Letter from Milton S. Eisenhower to MLK

Wednesday, January 26, 1966

This letter from former President Eisenhower's brother Milton, on behalf of Planned Parenthood World Population, requests that Dr. King serve the organization in order to "lend important moral support."

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

Saturday, February 3, 1962

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.

Black Power - Dr. Vincent Harding

Dr. Harding gives a full detailed presentation on Black Power before the Southeastern Regional Advisory Board of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith.

The A. Philip Randolph Institute

The A. Philip Randolph Institute was organized to mobilize labor, religious and other groups in support of the civil rights movement. Dr. King was a member of the Advisory Board.

Rio Grande Farm Workers Bulletin

Wednesday, February 1, 1967

This bulletin describes the difficulty that migrant farm laborers have encountered forming organizations to improve economic conditions.

Unity West Program

Thursday, June 1, 1967

Unity West issues this worship program for June 1967.

Letter from John Lewis to MLK

Thursday, July 22, 1965

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.

SCLC Seventh Annual Convention

Tuesday, September 24, 1963

This pamphlet advertises the 1963 Southern Christian Leadership Conference Annual Convention. It contains detailed information about the event, including members of the planning committee and scheduled presenters.

Letter to Dr. King from Elder G.W. Watkins

Friday, August 2, 1957

Elder G. W. Watkins writes Dr. King requesting that he and his organization join the fight to regain Cassius Clay's (Muhammad Ali) title as the Heavy Weight Boxing Champion of the World.

Letter from Esther Jackson to MLK

Monday, June 28, 1965

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.

The Many Faces of Black Power

The author identifies several approaches to the notion of Black Power. The author concludes that Black Power is "a programmatic concept capable of objective definition", "it presents many difficulties", and that the negatives have outweighed the positives.

Letter from Richard W. Boone to MLK

Tuesday, January 11, 1966

A letter from Richard Boone, Executive Director of Citizens Crusade Against Poverty, to Dr. King, enclosing the preliminary draft of the C.C.A.P.'s training proposal to the Ford Foundation.

Philadelphia Chapter of CORE Flyer

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

Letter from Pierre C. Armand to MLK

Monday, April 1, 1968

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.

Statement from American Jewish Congress Regarding the Bundy School-Decentralization Plan

Wednesday, February 28, 1968

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.

Telegram from Minsters of Operation Breadbasket to Robert E. Slater

Wednesday, November 22, 1967

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.

Progressive National Baptist Convention Sixth Annual Session

Monday, July 31, 1967

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.

People in Action: Segregation And The Church

Saturday, February 2, 1963

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.

Chicago Freedom Fund Festival

The Chicago Freedom Fund Festival, organized by Mahalia Jackson, served as a benefit for the SCLC.

Letter from James Bevel on the Spring Mobilization Committee

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."