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From James R. Robinson

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Author: Robinson, James R. (Congress of Racial Equality)

Date: May 13, 1960

Location: New York, N.Y.

Genre: Letter

Topic: Martin Luther King, Jr. - Arrests


Robinson, CORE's executive secretary, requests that King appear at a fund-raising event because the organization had "suffered considerably" as a result of the appeal from the Committee to Defend Martin Luther King and the Struggle for Freedom in the South.1 King, a member of CORE's advisory board since 1957, had recently expressed support for the organization and in August 1960 spoke at the group's nonviolent training institute in Miami.2

The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
563 Johnson Avenue
Atlanta, Georgia

Dear Dr. King:

It was certainly good to talk with you last evening. For weeks I have been in a state of indecision—feeling that you should know the reactions here in New York to the operation of Mr. Rustin and Mr. Levinson, and yet hesitating to make comments which could not escape questioning their integrity.

Some of the activities of the Rustin Committee have been deliberately calculated to cut into the fund-raising of other organizations. The use of "Combined Emergency Appeal" on direct-mail appeals gave many people the impression that the money was to be divided between the various organizations in the field.3

Our fund-raising for CORE has apparently suffered considerably. In order to give greater service in the field, the field staff has been increased from two to six. In addition to Leonard Holt, the new additions are Ulysses Prince (Atlanta U. student), Major Johns (expelled Baton Rouge leader), and Darwin Bolden, Yale law graduate who is concentrating on the Woolworth boycott coordination.4

We need, and the movement needs, these men.

In order to keep them, however, a major fund-raising event must be held. To run such an event, we need your help. Would you give us one day in New York City in June between June 10th and June 24th? We are counting on having at least one other person of national stature, plus two student leaders. But the whole idea is dependent upon your participation.

Please call me COLLECT this weekend if possible. The home telephone is OR 4-6250. I certainly hope you will give us your help.

Sincerely yours,
James R. Robinson
Executive Secretary


1. James R. Robinson (1918–), born in Rochester, New York, received a B.A. (1939) from Columbia University and an M.A. (1942) from the University of Chicago. As a graduate student Robinson co-founded the Chicago Committee of Racial Equality, CORE's forerunner. From 1945 until 1947, Robinson fulfilled his conscientious objector obligation by working in civilian public service camps in Tennessee and Colorado. Robinson was CORE's executive secretary (1957–1960) and membership secretary (1961) before becoming a fund-raiser for the American Committee on Africa (1961–1964) and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund (1964–1993).

2. King to J. Holmes Ford, 17 August 1959; King, Introduction to Cracking the Color Line, 1960, p. 349 in this volume; and Phil Meyer, "Non-Violence Held the Best Strategy," Miami Herald, 1 September 1960.

3. The mailing stated: "This Combined Appeal gives you the opportunity to support both needs—the Student Defense Fund and the Committee to Defend Martin Luther King, Jr." (Abernathy et al., Form letter to Friend, April 1960).

4. On 3 April, King had appeared with Virginia attorney Leonard Holt and James J. Kilpatrick, editor of the Richmond News Leader, on "Open End," a New York television talk show. King later debated Kilpatrick (see Debate with James J. Kilpatrick on "The Nation's Future," 26 November 1960, pp. 556-564 in this volume).

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

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