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To Dwight D. Eisenhower

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Author: King, Martin Luther, Jr.

Date: March 26, 1960

Location: New York, N.Y.

Genre: Letter

Topic: Martin Luther King, Jr. - Political and Social Views


King and other civil rights supporters applaud the State Department’s protest of the Sharpeville massacres and urge Eisenhower to issue a declaration “placing the administration firmly on the side of Negroes” in the South, adding: “Africans are turning to the UN for moral support and encouragement; must we?” In response, Gerald Morgan, deputy assistant to the president, referred to Eisenhower’s earlier expression of sympathy for the “efforts of any group to enjoy the rights of equality.”1

the president 
the white house

we are grateful that our state department has protested the mass killings of our south african brothers and we are pleased that the un security council will meet march 29th to consider that outrage.2 we urge that before march 29th our government issue a statement placing the administration firmly on the side of negroes in the southern states in their present struggle for their constitutional rights, since they are subjected to intimidation, threats and violence when they claim these rights.

furthermore, voting laws are useless to southern negroes who fear for their lives and for the safety of their families if they try to register and vote.

such a statement from the administration would strengthen the position of our delegation before the nations of the world.

south africans cannot hope for help from a government committed to “apartheid”; nor can we hope for help from local and state governments committed to “white supremacy” .

africans are turning to the un for moral support and encouragement; must we?


the reverend r. o. abernathy, montgomery, alabama;
president, montgomery improvement association.

dr. john s. chambers, lexington, kentucky; executive secretary, 
kentucky council of churches.

john wesley dobbs, atlanta, georgia; grand master,
prince hall masons.

dr. charles g. gomillion, tuskegee, alabama;
president, tuskegee civic association.

dr. edwin b. henderson, falls church, virginia;
author and educator.

john l. leflore mobile, alabama; president,
mobile civic association.

the reverend martin luther king, atlanta, georgia;
president, southern christian leadership conference.

dr. herman h. long, nashville, tennessee; fisk university.

bishop edgar h. love, baltimore, maryland; president,
college of bishops, the methodist church, central jurisdiction.

herbert marshall iii, m.d., washington, d.c.; past president,
national medical association.

e. d. nixon, montgomery, alabama; president, international
brotherhood of sleeping car porters, montgomery division.

dr. m. d. perdue, louisville, kentucky; chairman, commission
on state of the nation and needs of the race, general association of kentucky baptists.

the reverend fred l. shuttlesworth, birmingham, alabama;
president, alabama christian movement for human rights.

dr. c. o. simpkins, shreveport, louisiana; president,
united christian movement.

the reverend c. k. steele, tallahassee, florida;
president, inter-city council.

bishop c. eubank tucker, louisville, kentucky; presiding bishop,
ame zion church.

w hale thompson, newport news virginia; attorney.

carter wesley, houston, texas; publisher, the informer newspapers.

aubrey w. williams, montgomery, alabama; publisher, southern farm and home; president, southern conference educational fund, inc.

bishop smallwood e. williams, washington, d.c. presiding bishop,
bible way church, worldwide.

dean grady d davis, raleigh nc school of religion, shaw university.

1. Morgan to Abernathy, 11 April 1960.

2. Noting that the United States “does not ordinarily comment on the internal affairs of governments with which it enjoys normal relations,” a State Department representative expressed “regret” for “the tragic loss of life resulting from the measures taken against the demonstrators in South Africa” (Dana Adams Schmidt, “Police Violence in South Africa Criticized by U.S.,” New York Times, 23 March 1960). On 1 April, following four days of discussion, the United Nations Security Council blamed the violence on South Africa’s “continued disregard” of United Nations resolutions “calling upon it to revise its policies and bring them into conformity with its obligations and responsibilities under the Charter of the United Nations” (United Nations Security Council, 15th Year, Official Records of the Security Council, Supp. April, May and June 1960 [S/4300]).

Source: WCFG, KAbE, White House Central Files (General File), Dwight D. Eisenhower Library, Abilene, Kan.

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