Dickerson, president of Supreme Liberty Life Insurance, agrees to join the committee of Chicago African-American leaders to lobby National City Lines.1 He applauds King and the MIA for using economic pressure as “a means of obtaining complete equality in our great American Democracy.”
Rev. M. L. King, President
Montgomery Improvement Association
309 South Jackson Street
Dear Rev. King:
I have your communication addressed to me under date of December 27, 1955 regarding the matter of your citizens with the Transit Lines of Montgomery. I shall be happy to sit down and confer with Dr. Archibald Carey, the Chairman whom we designated, when, and as soon as he makes the request for a meeting of the committee.
Meanwhile, let me congratulate you and your associates for the fine work you are doing in protesting the unfair treatment of the Transit Lines of Montgomery. It seems to me that unless the Negro people are prepared to boycott companies and organizations which discriminate against them, we shall never be able to solve the problems involved in segregation and discrimination. Economic pressure is a weapon which we must now use as a means of obtaining complete equality in our great American Democracy. And I congratulate you again and trust that you will hold steadfast to the end in your opposition to the unfair and unchristian-like practices of this company.
Very truly yours,
Earl B. Dickerson
1. Earl Burrus Dickerson (1891-1986), born in Canton, Mississippi, earned his B.A. (1914) at the University of Illinois and his J.D. (1920) at the University of Chicago. After serving as general counsel for Supreme Life Insurance Company for more than thirty years, Dickerson presided over the company from 1955 to 1971. In 1940 he successfully argued before the US. Supreme Court the landmark case Hansberry v. Lee (1940), which affirmed the unconstitutionality of racially restricted real estate covenants. He was a national board member of the NAACP (1941–1980) and served terms as president of the Chicago Urban League (1939–1947,1951–1955) and the National Lawyers Guild.
MLKP-MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University, Boston, Mass.