Negotiations between the Albany Movement and city officials collapsed when movement leaders learned that decisions made in a meeting on 12 July with Albany police chief Laurie Pritchett were not binding.1 On 15 July, King, Anderson, Abernathy, and Slater King sent Albany mayor Asa D. Kelley and the City Commission the following manifesto along with a telegram requesting a “special meeting” no later than 17 July to discuss their grievances.2
The Albany Movement totally rejects the response of the city of Albany toward its requests as transmitted through Chief of Police, Laurie Pritchett. We have discovered over the last six months that it is the intention of the city fathers to maintain the system of segregation throughout the community regardless of the constitutional rights and just demands of the Negro citizenry.
We have learned through bitter experience that Chief Laurie Pritchett has not the power to make or keep the decisions for which he is purportedly responsible. We submit a long history of double-talk, unkept promises, subtle intimidation and lack or integrity as it relates to the just resolution of our grievances against the system of segregation as it exists in our city; and
WHEREAS we insist it is our right under the Constitution and the Bill of Rights to peacefully protest our grievances; and whereas it is a true saying that no Negro can exercise that right without provoking arrest and conviction; be it therefore resolved that we shall never bargain away our First Amendment privilege to so peacefully protest; and
WHEREAS there remain more than 700 cases pending presently on the docket of the Recorder’s Court since December of last year, which has yet to be adjudicated, we demand under the Sixth Amendment, as interpreted in the Fourteenth Amendment, that they be granted a fair and speedy trial at once or be summarily discharged from prosecution; and
WHEREAS there continues only intermittent compliance, at the city bus terminals, with the ICC ruling which became effective as of September, 1960, we do further resolve that we petition the Attorney General of the United States to initiate immediately a suit pursuant to a Federal Court injunctive order to restrain public officials or private interests from interference with the use of all such facilities; and3
WHEREAS desegregation is the order of the day with support of the Constitution, Supreme Court of the United States, the climate of world opinion, the moral order and the laws of God, we resolve to address all of our energies to the removal of every vestige of segregation from our midst; and
WHEREAS Christian nonviolence has demonstrated its power in application, technique and discipline, we resolve that the instruments with which we work shall be those alone that are consistent with nonviolent principles; and
WHEREAS the inspiration and support afforded to the Albany Movement by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Dr. Ralph D. Abernathy, The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and other individuals and organizations similarly dedicated, we do resolve to make a career, publicly and privately, that they are here by invitation and we heartily welcome their presence; and
WHEREAS in some quarters of the community, state and nation there are spurious reports of a truce, we do resolve that all may know there is no truce and we band ourselves together to do whatever must be done to deliver the death-knell once and for all to the system of segregation in the city of Albany, Georgia with earnest hope that the example we set here shall spread across the South.
1 After King and Abernathy were unexpectedly released from jail on 12 July, they and other Albany leaders met informally with Pritchett. King later claimed that Pritchett had approved the creation of a bi-racial committee to settle disputes and agreed to return bond money paid by previously arrested demonstrators, two points of contention during stalled negotiations the previous December. Pritchett, however, denied any deals were made (Claude Sitton, “Dr. King’s Release Reduces Tensions,” New York Times, 14 July 1962). At a press conference from Ralph Abernathy’s West Hunter Baptist Church in Atlanta, King said of Pritchett: “The police chief is a fine man with the best of intentions but because of difficult conditions in the city he can’t engage in good faith negotiations.” He continued: “He says one thing behind closed doors and another when he meets the press.” King also said that the “situation” in Albany “is much more serious,” warning that “if the City Commission doesn’t meet with us there is no alternative but to engage in a nonviolent direct action movement to open channels of negotiation” (William Hannah, “Albany Negroes Urge Mayor to Renew Talks,” Atlanta Constitution, 16 July 1962; “Albany Officials Refuse to Parley,” Birmingham News, 16 July 1962).
2 The manifesto was likely drafted by King aide Wyatt Tee Walker (Walker, Interview by King Papers Project staff, 11 August 2012). In the telegram, the movement leaders expressed dissatisfaction with the negotiations over the past year: “Terms relayed to us by Chief (Laurie) Pritchett are unsatisfactory. Long records of broken promises and bad faith agreements reveal conferences with Chief Pritchett are of no avail” (Hannah, “Albany Negroes Urge Mayor to Renew Talks," 16 July 1962).
3 In May 1961, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy petitioned the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) to desegregate all terminal facilities, including waiting rooms, restrooms, restaurants, and ticketing areas. The ICC complied in September 1961, but the order did not take effect until 1 November.
SCLCR-GAMK, Southern Christian Leadership Conference Records, 1954-1970, Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Nonviolent Social Change, Inc., Atlanta, Ga: Box 34.