Responding to events in Little Rock, King sent a telegram offering advice to local minister Roland Smith and Daisy Bates, president of the Arkansas NAACP and advisor to the Little Rock Nine.1 The text of the telegram, which appeared in the Atlanta Daily World, is printed below.
“Urge the people of Little Rock to adhere rigorously to a way of non-violence at this time. I know this is difficult advice at a time when you are being terrorized, stoned, and threatened by ruthless mobs. But non-violence is the only way to a lasting solution of the problem.
“You must meet physical force with soul force. You have no alternative but to continue the struggle for integrated schools, but do it with a thorough commitment to Christian principles. If the white mobs of Little Rock choose to be unchristian and disgracefully barbaric in their acts, you must continue to be Christian and dignified in yours.
“History is on your side. World opinion is with you. The moral conscience of millions of white Americans is with you. Keep struggling with this faith and the tragic midnight of anarchy and mob rule which encompasses your city at this time will be transformed into the glowing daybreak of freedom and justice.”
1 For further discussion of this communication see King to Smiley, 24 October 1957, pp. 290-291 in this volume. The actual telegram has not been located.
Atlanta Daily World, 26 September 1957.