Presidential assistant Rabb condemns the previous day's violence in Montgomery.
The Reverend Martin Luther King
530 S. Union Street
Dear Mr. King:
The President has asked me to thank you for your telegram of January 8.1 It was good of you to advise us of the conference which was held in Atlanta this week.
The President and this Administration do not condone these acts of violence and, when a federal statute is involved, the federal government stands ready to act speedily. In fact, I am advised by the Department ofJustice that the FBI is now making a preliminary inquiry into the bombings which have recently taken place in Montgomery in order to determine whether there has been any violation of federal law.2
If you feel that the conference in Atlanta and any results issuing therefrom might be of interest to the President, he would be very happy to hear from you further.
With every good wish,
Maxwell M. Rabb
1. On 8 January King and other organizers of the Southern Negro Leaders Conference sent telegrams to various organizations and individuals requesting “support and advice for the deliberations.” Other respondents included James A. Pike, dean of New York’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine; Patrick Murphy Malin, executive director of the ACLU; Eugene Carson Blake, president of the National Council of Churches, all dated to January 1957. Israel Goldstein, president of the American Jewish Congress, replied on 11 January 1957.
2. In the afternoon of 10 January, King and MIA executive board member W. J. Powell met with FBI agents in Montgomery to request greater federal involvement in solving the bombings. An FBI memorandum described the visit: “Rev. King. . .complained that the Negroes of Montgomery do not know where to turn because they are all convinced that the Montgomery PD is making no real attempt to solve the bombings, and that the city, by its public utterances, have not encouraged non-violence and have created an atmosphere condu[c]ive to violence” (Fred Hallford to J. Edgar Hoover, 10 January 1957; Hoover to Herbert Brownell, 11 January 1957).
WCFO, KAbE, White House Central Files (Official File), Dwight D. Eisenhower Library, Abilene, Kan., GF 124-A