During a Carnegie Hall birthday celebration for Randolph, King praised the black leader’s refusal “to sell his race for a mess of pottage.”1 This handwritten outline may have framed King’s remarks, which directly preceded an address by Randolph announcing plans for protests at the Democratic and Republican national conventions.2
He has always had the penetrating insight to dream when the time for a great idea had appeared
He has recognized the power of mass non-violent action
He has never been afraid to challenge an unjust state power speak out against the power structure
He is a symbol, dedicated and courageous leadership
1. Louis E. Burnham, “The Spectator: One Man’s Stature,” National Guardian, 1 February 1960. In addition to remarks from Eleanor Roosevelt and Minnesota senator Hubert Humphrey, the audience heard a tribute to Randolph from President Eisenhower: “In this great unfinished business, your spirit and ability provide a major resource to your fellow men” (Eisenhower to Randolph, 18 January 1960). Entertainers Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee dramatized Randolph’s life, and Juanita Hall sang selections from the hit musical “South Pacific” (Program, “Salute to A. Philip Randolph,” 24 January 1960). As a member of the event’s sponsoring committee, King thanked Roosevelt on 4 December 1959 for agreeing to attend: “Unquestionably your presence as America’s First Citizen will heighten the significance of the occasion and serve to dramatize the profound meaning for all Americans of Mr. Randolph’s dedicated decades of service.”
2. “Pullman Union Leader Urges Negro Marches on Conventions,” New York Times, 25 January 1960. For more on the protests, see King and Randolph, Statement Announcing the March on the Conventions Movement for Freedom Now, 9 June 1960, pp. 467-469 in this volume. The ideas outlined in this document correspond to those suggested in a 16 January telegram to King, probably sent by Bayard Rustin.