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 Andrew Heiskell to MLK

Tuesday, July 25, 1967
New York, NY, Chicago, IL, Atlanta, GA, Detroit, MI, Boston, MA, Washington, D.C.

Mr. Heiskell extends an invitation for Dr. King to join Mayors of major cities and other national leaders in forming a coalition to address urban problems.

A Knock At Midnight

Sunday, August 9, 1964
Atlanta, GA, New York (NY), New York, NY, New Jersey (NJ), Mississippi (MS), Alabama (AL), Birmingham, AL

In a tape-recorded address to the Riverside Church in New York City, Dr. King compares the civil rights struggle to a parable from St. Luke. His sermon specifically tackles contemporary social issues such as segregation, discrimination, and the philosophy of nonviolence. In addition, Dr. King explores the role of the church in dealing with such problems.

Letter to MLK from Homer Brown

Monday, October 4, 1965
Atlanta, GA

Homer Brown writes Dr. King regarding his experience with racism in the Railway Express Agency.

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 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.

Letter from Silas K. Brown to MLK

Tuesday, December 26, 1967
Chicago, IL, Illinois (IL), Mississippi (MS)

Mr. Brown requests the help of Dr. King and the SCLC on behalf of Reverend U.S. Gilliam. Reverend Gilliam, the first Negro to run for public office in Grenada, Mississippi, is under attack by whites in his community.

Telegram from MLK to President Kennedy

In this draft telegram, Dr. King expresses his appreciation to President Kennedy for the Executive Order outlawing discrimination in all federally assisted housing.

Italian Weekly Requests MLK Views on Gandhi

Tuesday, January 3, 1967
INDIA, ITALY, Atlanta, GA, New York, NY

The Italian weekly magazine, Mondo Domani, plans to publish a lengthy article on Gandhi. The editors wish to include Dr. King's response to several questions on nonviolence, outlined in this letter from their United States Representative Enzo Viscusi.

Telegram from Minsters of Operation Breadbasket to Robert E. Slater

Wednesday, November 22, 1967
Boston, MA, Baltimore, MD

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.

Temple Sholom Concert Forum Committee Announces MLK as Guest Lecturer

Chicago, IL, Illinois (IL)

Chicago's Temple Sholom encourages interested parties to reserve their tickets soon, given the widespread enthusiasm for Dr. King's upcoming speaking engagement.

Address to AFL-CIO New York City District 65

New York (NY), Montgomery, AL, Birmingham, AL, Alabama (AL), Selma, AL, Los Angeles, CA, California (CA)

Dr. King speaks to the District 65 AFL-CIO to address the importance of job opportunities in the northern and southern regions of the United States. He explains that the labor movement must stay active in order to gain civil rights and equal pay for African American workers.

Urban League Feeling a Financial Squeeze

Wednesday, September 15, 1965
Chicago, IL

This article focuses on the Chicago Urban League's struggle to gain financial support from contributors. According to the organization's director Edwin C. Berry, former contributors failed to accept the fact that the goals and scope of the league would preclude the organization from becoming a "protest group."

Letter from David Mocine to MLK

Monday, August 14, 1967
Wisconsin (WI), VIETNAM, FORMER SOVIET UNION / USSR, CHINA, CUBA, Detroit, MI, Cambridge, MA, New York (NY)

David Mocine writes on the economic disparity in the United States regarding African Americans in relation to their percentage of the population.

Letter from MLK to Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller

Friday, September 14, 1962
New York (NY), Georgia (GA), Albany, GA

In this letter, Dr. King writes to New York Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller to express his gratitude for the Governor's letter and copy of his new book. Dr. King also refers to the possibility of Gov. Rockefeller's making "a large contribution to the Gandhi Society for Human Rights," and writes extensively about the Society and the effect such a contribution would have.

Unity West Program

Thursday, June 1, 1967
Wisconsin (WI), Milwaukee, WI, Washington (WA), UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Unity West issues this worship program for June 1967.

MLK's Address to American Negro Leadership Conference on Africa

Saturday, November 24, 1962
New York (NY), South Africa

Drawing connections between the social injustices of two continents, Dr. King discusses the relationship between segregation in America and colonialism in Africa. Dr. King also shares his opinion about America dominating Africa politically and economically.

The Many Faces of Black Power

CHINA, CUBA, FORMER SOVIET UNION / USSR

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.

Telegram from Nathan Cooper to MLK

Sunday, October 23, 1960
New York, NY, Atlanta, GA, GEORGIA, ALGERIA

Referring to Dr. King as a southern fascist, Nathan Cooper telegrams his demands for an immediate two- hour national radio television civil rights debate.

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.

Telegram from MLK to Cesar Chavez

California (CA)

Dr. King commends Cesar Chavez for his personal sacrifice and commitment to the use of nonviolence as a way to achieve justice.

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

Friday, August 2, 1957
Texas (TX)

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.

Blue Spiral Notebook

North Carolina (NC)

Contained in this notebook is a draft of Dr. King's statement to Judge James E. Webb following his arrest during the Rich's Magnolia Tea Room Sit-In. There is also an outline of a letter to female students who were arrested during the sit-in. On other pages a child practices handwriting.

Request from The Wooster Afro-American Students Organization

Tuesday, March 19, 1968
Ohio (OH)

The Wooster Afro-American Students Organization inquires if Dr. King would be available to speak to the institute about the concept of Black Power.

The Ben Bella Conversation

ALGERIA, CUBA, Montgomery, AL, Alabama (AL), Albany, GA, Georgia (GA), Mississippi (MS), New York (NY), New York, NY

Dr. King summarizes his recent two-hour meeting with Premier Ahmed Ben Bella of the newly-formed Algerian Republic. He mentions that Ben Bella was intimately familiar with the details of the civil rights movement and repeatedly said or inferred that “we are brothers.” King states that “the battle of the Algerians against colonialism and the battle of the Negro against segregation is a common struggle.” There are international implications for the US if it doesn’t solve its human rights problem: the nation will become a second-rate power in the world.

It is Not Enough to Condemn Black Power...

Saturday, October 1, 1966
Mississippi (MS), Chicago, IL

Dr. King addresses the "Black Power" movement in this two-page document. He also explains his thoughts and experiences relating to the tactics and goals of the Civil Rights Movement.

Letter from MLK to Adolph Held

Friday, September 29, 1967
New York, NY, Chicago, IL, ISRAEL, Illinois (IL)

Dr. King writes Adolph Held, President of the Jewish Labor Committee, in response to his inquiry regarding SCLC's position on anti-semitism. Dr. King clarifies a number of distortions produced by the media, and presents the facts of the Chicago Conference of New Politics event throughout the letter.

Letter from Walter Gibson to MLK

Tuesday, December 5, 1967
VIETNAM, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Mr. Gibson writes to Dr. King concerning his political position on the Vietnam War. He believes that the war is a just war because the end is to help the South Vietnamese halt the spread of communism.

Letter From George Patton Jr. to MLK

New York, NY, Atlanta, GA

George Patton expresses his disdain to Dr. King about the names that whites call "Black Americans" and offers a list of names that blacks should be "referred to as."

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.

The Deep South in Social Revolution

Nashville, TN, Tennessee (TN), Tallahassee, FL, Florida (FL), New Orleans, LA, New York, NY, New York (NY), Kentucky (KY), Louisville, KY

The Deep South in Social Revolution was the theme for the 1961 SCLC Annual Meeting.