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From Norman Cousins and Clarence Pickett

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Author: Cousins, Norman; Pickett, Clarence

Date: March 9, 1958

Location: New York, N.Y.

Genre: Letter

Topic: Martin Luther King, Jr. - Political and Social Views


Pickett and Cousins, who had been among the founders of the National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy (SANE) in 1957, ask King to support the group’s second statement against nuclear testing.1 King responded affirmatively on 17 March, and his name appeared in the 24 March SANE advertisement published in the New York Herald Tribune.2 Later in the year King was among nineteen sponsors of SANE’s statement "To the Men at Geneva," directed at world leaders who were then meeting to discuss nuclear test bans.3

Dr. Martin Luther King 
309 South Jackson 
Montgomery, Ala.

Dear Dr. King:

We are enclosing this Committee’s second statement which will be published over the signatures of at least 50 prominent Americans.

It will appear first in the New York Herald Tribune in the next few days.

We think it particularly timely in view of the growing awareness of the American people and the apparent increasing responsiveness of governments toward the problem of nuclear tests.

We would be pleased to include your name among the signers. Will you please wire you reply to the above address?

Norman Cousins

Clarence Pickett 
Co-Chairmen for the Committee

P.S. Our first statement, "We Are Facing a Danger Unlike Any Danger That Has Ever Existed", has now appeared in 41 newspapers and, on at least three occasions, in the Congressional Record.4


1. Norman Cousins (1915-1990), born in Union City, New Jersey, graduated from Columbia University in 1933. Cousins worked as a book critic and literary editor at Current History magazine from 1935 until 1940 when he left to join the Saturday Review of Literature, becoming editor two years later. In 1945 Cousins arranged for the "Hiroshima Maidens," twenty-five young victims of the atomic bomb, to come to the United States for medical treatment. He resigned from SANE in 1967. Clarence Evan Pickett (1884-1965), born in Cissna Park, a small Quaker community in Illinois, earned an A.B. (1910) from Penn College and later graduated from the Hartford Theological Seminary (1913). He served as executive secretary of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) for twenty-two years, beginning in 1929. Under his leadership, the AFSC received the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1947. Pickett was part of an AFSC delegation to Montgomery during the bus boycott, and also served on the advisory board to SCLC’s Crusade for Citizenship campaign. He was co-chair of SANE until 1963.

2. This statement, "The World’s People Have a Right to Demand No Contamination Without Representation," presented information about the dangers of nuclear fallout. King’s endorsement of SANE’S third statement arrived too late to be included; however, the executive secretary of Cleveland SANE requested King’s permission to add his name to a reprint of the third ad: "It is not idle flattery to say that yours is one of the most respected names in America today. We feel its inclusion in the sponsors list will mean much to the millions of Americans who are confused or silent on the dangers posed by nuclear testing." King replied affirmatively on 31 May, again too late for inclusion in the published statement (see Cousins and Pickett to King, 8 April 1958; Elfrieda S. Daiber to King, 20 May 1958; and Daiber to King, 11 June 1958).

3. This statement was printed in the New York Times on 31 October 1958, and was hand delivered to the representatives in Geneva with several thousand signatures attached (Keys to King, 12 December 1958; "World Figures Ask Nuclear Tests’ End," New York Times, 31 October 1958). King retained an affiliation with SANE throughout the rest of his life.

4. This statement first appeared in the New York Times on 15 November 1957.

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

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