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From James Peck

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Author: Peck, James (Committee for Nonviolent Integration)

Date: June 1, 1956

Location: New York, N.Y.

Genre: Letter

Topic: Montgomery Bus Boycott


On behalf of the Committee for Nonviolent Integration, a national support organization for the bus boycott and other southern desegregation efforts, Peck sends the MIA a shipment of matchbooks bearing the slogans "Justice Without Violence" and "Walk for Freedom" to be used for fund-raising. 1

Martin Luther King, President 
Montgomery Improvement Assn. 
1903 Myles 
‘Montgomery 8, Ala.

Dear Rev. King,

Within a week or two, you will receive from the Mercury Match Corp. of Zanesville, Ohio, a case of matchbooks bearing the slogans of the protest action and with the name and address of the Montgomery Improvement Association on the inside cover. You will recall that Bayard Rustin consulted with you regarding such matches.

This first case (including shipment) is donated by me through the Committee for Nonviolent Integration, with which I work closely. They come in cartons of 50 matchbooks and may well be sold by the carton, the proceeds going to the Montgomery Improvement Association. On the other hand, you might find it more effective to distribute them free of charge. That is up to you.

Anyway, I would appreciate knowing whether you find this an effective medium for publicizing the protest. This is not the first time I have designed matches to promote just causes and in many instances they have proved more effective than leaflets. If you find them successful, you might want to order more.

Jim Peck

IMPORTANT PS-If you should have occasion to send any of these matches through the mails, be sure to, first, wrap them in aluminum foil (available at most dimestores and supermarkets). Failure to do so would be a violation of the postal laws and I’m sure they would be only too eager to harass you over this sort of thing.

1. James Peck (1914-1993), born in New York City, was active in the War Resisters League before World War II and was imprisoned for refusing to register for the draft. During his twenty-eight-month prison sentence he led a strike that led to the first desegregation of a federal penitentiary. Peck served as a member of the Congress of Racial Equality’s national action committee and was editor of the CORElator for seventeen years. He participated in the group’s 1947 Journey of Reconciliation and its 1961 Freedom Ride, during which he was badly beaten by a Birmingham mob.

In March King met with several members of the newly formed Committee for Nonviolent Integration (CNI) and agreed to its initial list of projects. A. J. Muste was secretary pro tem of the group; Donald Harrington and William Stuart Nelson served as co-chairs. For a list of proposed CNI projects and committee members, see Muste to Benjamin Mays; Committee for Nonviolent Integration, Nine Initial Projects; and Committee for Nonviolent Integration, Statement of Purpose; all 13 April 1956.

Source: MLKP-MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Boston University, Boston, Mass.

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