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To Patrick Murphy Malin, Roy Wilkins, and Carl J. Megel

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Author: King, Martin Luther, Jr.

Date: June 16, 1960

Location: Atlanta, Ga.?

Genre: Letter

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

Student movements


King alerts the heads of the ACLU, NAACP, and American Federation of Teachers (AFT) regarding Lawrence Reddick's termination from Alabama State College and alleges that state officials are “seeking to halt the southern nonviolent student movement by making an example of Dr. Reddick.”1 King characterizes Alabama as “a Gestapo state with no respect for decency, justice and fair play” and calls on Malin, Wilkins, and Megel to issue public statements in protest.2

mr. patrick murphy malin
american civil liberties union
170 fifth avenue
new york, new york

mr. roy wilkins
the national association for the advancement of colored people
20 west 40th street
new york, new york

mr. carl j. megel, president
american federation of teachers
28 east jackson boulevard
chicago 4, illinois

the governor of alabama has ordered president trenholm of alabama state college to fire dr. l. d. reddick immediately. he has attempted to use trumpted up charges of communist association as the basis of the firing. there is not one scintilla of truth in these charges. the fact is that the state is seeking to halt the southern nonviolent student movement by making an example of dr. reddick because of his sympathy for and support of the struggle for racial justice. dr. reddick is an able scholar and dedicated humanitarian. his devotion and loyalty to the ideals of american democracy are unquestioned. the firing of dr. reddick is a tragic miscarriage of justice and an assault on academic freedom. it is an attempt to deprive teachers of their constitutional rights of free speech and free assembly. i hope you can see your way clear to issue a strong statenent to governor patterson immediately. governor patterson also urged the board of education to seriously consider firing alabama state college' s president, dr. h. council trenholm because he had not removed the faculty members who expressed sympathy for the student sit-ins. dr. trenholm has been ordered to appear before board next month with personal files of all faculty members. all this is indicative of the fact that alabama is now a gestapo state with no respect for decency, justice and fair play. this should be called to attention of whole nation. release statement you have to press.

martin luther king, jr.

1. King also prepared a statement calling Alabama "an ugly symbol of injustice and immorality" and expressed his "unqualified confidence" in Reddick (King, Statement on the firing of Lawrence Dunbar Reddick by Alabama State College, 16 June 1960). On 14 June the Alabama State Board of Education, acting on a recommendation from Governor John Patterson, had ordered Alabama State College president H. Councill Trenholm to fire Reddick "before sundown." Though Reddick, who had served for six years as chair of the history department, had already submitted his resignation effective 31 August, Trenholm discharged him immediately (Bob Ingram, "Negro Teacher Linked to Reds, Ordered Fired: ASC Ouster Given Push by Governor," Montgomery Advertiser, 15 June 1960). Patrick Murphy Malin (1903–1964) obtained a B.S. (1924) from the University of Pennsylvania and taught economics at Swarthmore College from 1930 until 1950. Malin became the executive director of the ACLU in 1950 and held this position until 1962. Carl J. Megel (1899-1992) earned a B.A. (1923) from Franklin College. He became active in the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) in the 1930s and served as president of the AFT from 1952 until 1964.

2. The three men all complied with King's request (ACLU, Press release, 17 June 1960; "Firing of Reddick Hit by Leader of Teachers," Birmingham World, 16 July 1960, and Wilkins to Patterson, 17 June 1960). Faculty reprisals had been threatened as early as March following a wave of student protests at Alabama State, and Reddick had written King twice about the importance of support from the ACLU and AFT (Reddick to King, 13 and 25 April 1960). Both Wilkins and Malin had also condemned threatened teacher firings (Malin to Patterson, 14 April 1960, and Reddick to King, 13 April 1960).

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

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