Randolph, president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, urges King to attend the “State of the Race” Conference in Washington, D. C., on 24 April.1 Randolph called the conference, a closed meeting of black leaders from across the country, to coordinate civil rights efforts nationwide; to support the NAACP and its efforts to enforce desegregation; and to respond to the “Southern Manifesto,” a resolution by 100 southern members of Congress that denounced the Supreme Court’s school desegregation ruling. Having appointed King as chairman of the Montgomery boycott panel, Randolph requests that he prepare a brief presentation. King wrote “answered” on the telegram, but his reply has not been located. Because of a crucial MIA executive board meeting, he did not attend the gathering of about seventy-five black leaders, who met at the headquarters of the National Council of Negro Women.2
rev martin king
montgomery improvement assoc 647 clinton ave
am looking foward to receiving your acceptance of my invitation to attend “state of the race” conference in washington dc april 24th have arranged several panel discussion groups in order to expedite and facilitate action on the questions before us have taken the liberty of appointing you chairman of the “montgomery boycott”: present and future plans panel expect your full participation in the entire days proceedings but wish you to repare brief salient points in regard to the above topic to present at the panel discussion
a philip randolph
1. Asa Philip Randolph (1889-1968), born in Crescent City, Florida, graduated from Cookman Institute in 1911. In 1917 he co-founded the Messenger, an African-American socialist journal that was critical of American involvement in World War I. He founded the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters in 1925. In 1937 Randolph gained national prominence when he successfully battled the Pullman Palace Car Company for recognition of the union. In 1941, after Randolph threatened to organize a march on Washington demanding equal hiring practices in the war industry, President Roosevelt issued an executive order banning racial discrimination in federal employment and established the Fair Employment Practices Committee. Randolph helped form the League for Nonviolent Civil Disobedience Against Military Segregation and influenced President Truman to desegregate the armed services in 1948. Following the merger of the American Federation of Labor with the Congress of Industrial Organizations, Randolph was appointed to the AFL-CIO executive council in 1955; two years later he became vice president of the new organization. For Randolph’s early response to the boycott, see Randolph to E. D. Nixon, 23 February 1956.
2. The executive board met to discuss Montgomery City Lines’ stated intention to comply with the recent US. Supreme Court decision upholding a July 1955 ruling by the federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia, that declared segregation in intrastate public transportation unconstitutional (Sara Mae Flemming v. South Carolina Electric & Gas Company, 351 U.S. 901 ). Faced with state and city resistance to bus integration, however, King announced that the boycott would continue, a decision affirmed at a mass meeting on 26 April (see King, Address to MIA Mass Meeting at Day Street Baptist Church, pp. 230-232 in this volume).
MLKP-MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University, Boston, Mass.