After newspapers announced that King would be a featured speaker, along with Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., at the fifth annual meeting of the Mississippi Regional Council of Negro Leadership in Jackson on 27 April, Mississippi governor James P. Coleman announced that "it would be a tragedy to have professional agitators like Powell and King come to our state and fan the fires anew."1 The meeting was expected to draw an audience of thousands, which prompted Coleman to urge King (and Powell) to "reconsider and indefinitely postpone your visit."
reverend martin luther king
the press reports that you are scheduled to address a public meeting in jackson mississippi on friday of this week stop mississippi has no intention now or hereafter of interfering with the constitutional rights of freedom of assembly and freedom of speech yet i feel it my duty as governor of mississippi to inform you that conditions in our state are now more tranquil than at any time in recent months and in view of your record your appearnace here will be a great disservice to our negro people stop i trust you will reconsider and indefnitely postpone your visit
j p coleman governor of mississippi
1. "NAACP Maps Court Battle in Mississippi," Montgomery Advertiser. 24 April 1956. James Plemon Coleman (1914-1991), born in Ackerman, Mississippi, graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1935. He served as the state’s attorney general from 1950 to 1956 and was governor from 1956 to 1960. President Johnson later appointed him to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
MLKP, MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University, Boston, Mass.