On 25 July, Clara Cochran and L. H. Holmes, leaders of a group of African-American homeowners known as the Albert Street Club, wrote to King requesting financial assistance to mount a legal challenge to the City of Eufaula's plans to condemn and demolish black-owned homes in the Flake Hill community.1 The black residents charged that city officials planned to relocate them outside the school district boundaries to prevent the integration of a white high school: “We have lived in this area for over fifty years. Now the White people want to take our community...redevelop it with White homes, an extension of the White school and a White park.”
Rev. L. H. Holmes, President
The Albert Street Club
324 Albert Street
Dear Rev. Holmes:
On returning to the office I found your letter of July 25, on my desk. I was very sorry to hear of the misfortunes that the Negroes of Eufaula, Alabama are confronting at the present time from the Eufaula Housing Authority You certainly have a right to carry your complaints to the highest court of the land. I have been watching the developments in this case since I returned to the state and was sorry to learn that Judge Johnson failed to rule in your favor.2 This is only indicative of the fact that we have a long hard struggle here in the South against the evils of segregation and discrimination.
I took up your request for financial aid with the Montgomery Improvement Association. They felt that we should discuss the whole matter with Attorney Gray before we proceed to do anything in terms of aid.3 As you know the Montgomery Improvement Association is a civic organization which depends on the free will offerings of dedicated individuals and has many financial obligations of its own. This means that we can only give a minimum of outside help. When this is done it requires a great deal of investigation on the part of one of our committees. I am sure you can understand this. So we will discuss this matter with Attorney Gray and let you hear from us later.
Again let me thank you for your courage and determination. The Negro citizens of Eufaula are to be commended for this fearless stand. You have my prayers and best wishes in all of your great endeavors.
Very sincerely yours,
Martin L. King, Jr.
1. The Albert Street Club was the first of several block clubs in Flake Hill to organize against the city’s plans. Clara Cochran (1916 -) was born in Eufaula, Alabama, and worked as a nurse at Barbour County Hospital at the time of the founding of the Albert Street Club. She served as the organization’s secretary. L. H. Holmes (1887-1973), born in Barbour County, served as a circuit preacher for several AME churches in southeast Alabama. He was president of the Albert Street Club.
2. On 6 August U.S. District Court judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr. dismissed the case, ruling that the plaintiffs failed to prove the newly built homes would be sold only to whites (Stephen Tate, et al., v. The City of Eufaula, et al., 165 F. Supp. 303 ; see also Dick Looser, “Court Voids Suit Citing Racial Bar,” Montgomery Advertiser, 7 August 1958).
3. MIA attorney Fred Gray represented the Albert Street Club in the federal case and in a related case before Alabama Circuit Court judge George C. Wallace (Housing Authority of the City of Eufaula v. Oscar Bovier, et al., Circuit Court of Barbour County ).
MLKP-MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Boston University, Boston, Mass.