In March the Rockland County (New York) NAACP branch sent clothing and shoes to Cleveland, Mississippi, where Amzie Moore was leading a voter registration campaign.1 In a 31 July letter to King, Lynn, counsel to the Rockland branch, reported that the supplies were never collected from the depot and that registered letters to Moore's Farmers and Businessmen's Association had drawn no response.2 In the following letter King suggests the "possibility that the officials at the post office did away with the clothes, knowing that they were to aid Negroes who had confronted reprisals.” On 28 August Lynn replied, informing King that the Rockland NAACP was constructing a case against the blocking of relief supplies to the South.3
Mr. Conrad J. Lynn, Atty.
Suite 11 17-141 Broadway
New York 6, New York
Dear Mr. Lynn:
This is to acknowledge receipt of your letter of July 31, making inquiry concerning the need for clothing in this section of the country at this time. I do not know too much about the situation in Cleveland, Mississippi, consequently it will be impossible for me to give any authoritative answer on what happened to the clothes which you sent there. It is a possibility that the officials at the post office did away with the clothes, knowing that they were to aid Negroes who had confronted reprisals.
I do feel that Mississippi is still in dire need of outside help in terms of clothing and food. People in certain regions of Mississippi have confronted reprisals more than any other state. Here in Montgomery, Alabama we do not have too much need for clothing. Our needs are more financial. But I am sure that many regions in Mississippi will continue to need clothing and food supplies for some time. I would suggest that you write the President of the State Conference of the NAACP of Mississippi. I do not know his name.4 I am sure that you can secure it from the national office. He could possibly give you more definite information at this point.
Very sincerely yours,
M. L. King, Jr.,
1. Amzie Moore (1912-1982), born in Grenada County, Mississippi, was a postal employee and small business owner. After serving in World War II, Moore helped found the Regional Council of Negro Leadership, a Mississippi Delta civil rights organization. In 1955 Moore was elected president of the Cleveland NAACP branch. The following year, he attended the national conference of the NAACP in San Francisco where he promoted his newly formed Delta Farmers and Businessmen’s Association. An early supporter of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee’s voter registration work, Moore helped organize the Council of Federated Organizations, a coalition of civil rights groups working in the state.
2. Conrad J. Lynn (1908-1995), born in Newport, Rhode Island, received a B.A. (1930) from Syracuse University and in 1932 became the first black graduate of that university’s law school. Lynn participated in the 1947 “Journey of Reconciliation,” organized by the Congress of Racial Equality and FOR to protest segregation on interstate buses. In 1958 Lynn defended two black boys, ages seven and nine, charged with rape for having kissed a white female playmate in Monroe, North Carolina. The “Kissing Case” garnered international attention and drew Eleanor Roosevelt into a successful campaign for the youths’ release in 1959. In January 1959 American Socialist published Lynn’s sympathetic but critical review of King’s first book, Stride Toward Freedom (Lynn, “Negro Leadership,” American Socialist 6 [January 1959]: 21-22).
3. On 19 February 1958 Lynn invited King to speak before the Rockland County NAACP “to express our belief that the N.A.A.C.P. nationally must move closer to the tactics of your rank-and-file organization, The Montgomery Improvement Association.” King’s secretary, Hilda S. Proctor, declined the invitation on 5 March.
4. Charles R. Darden, a businessman from Meridian, Mississippi, served as president of the Mississippi State Conference of Branches from 1955 to 1960.
MLKP-MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Boston University, Boston, Mass.