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From Stanley D. Levison

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Author: Levison, Stanley D.

Date: November 3, 1958

Location: New York, N.Y.

Genre: Letter

Topic: Martin Luther King, Jr. - Family

Martin Luther King, Jr. - Political and Social Views



Levison reports on the distribution of Stride Toward Freedom and discusses the implications of the 25 October Youth March for Integrated Schools.

Dear Martin:

Just a note to let you know that practically all of the books have been sent out. I am making a small list of a few people who should receive autographed books as a result of those already mailed-- for example, since Helstein is getting an autographed copy I think that Lasley should get one.1 He is the real originator of the support and should get this kind of recognition. There are some other political figures Harris Wofford suggested as well as an additional group of Indian leaders particularly associated with non-violence to whom an autographed copy logically should be sent.

I am enclosing a copy of the Amsterdam News which you will not otherwise see. Its coverage, as you will see, was more than superficial. I think Coretta will be particularly pleased by Jimmy Hicks’ column.2 In general we found press coverage excellent everywhere except in New York City. Most of the papers in the country featured the March on page 1. It was carried in the foreign press and the Armed Forces news program which is beamed all over the world had a full report on it.

There are few actions we have conducted which seem to have reached into so many areas as this one. Everyone is talking about it and is anticipating eagerly its follow-up. Of greatest importance is the fact that it definitely triggered a student movement for civil rights on major campuses. This is a development of incalculable value. Our efforts have long been retarded by the relative apathy of youth and labor to seize this issue as a burning question. Without these two foremost and dependably progressive allies the whole movement necessarily suffered. If the young people are aroused from their lethargy through this fight, it will affect broad circles throughout the country as well as vertically through the different economic stratifications. In this sense there is a great similarity to the student movement which emerged in the thirties in support of the great liberal issue of that day-- the right to trade union organization. It was a profoundly important component of the whole popular movement. Since I see this emerging around civil rights in that area, I am greatly encouraged and expect it to make a real contribution.

Warmest regards,
[signed] Stan

P.S. A few days ago Phil Randolph received a check for $200 from Harriman. You will no doubt want to send him the same thank you letter or some other one specifically designed for him.3

1. Levison refers to Ralph Helstein and Russell Lasley, officials of the United Packinghouse Workers of America.

2. Hicks extolled Coretta King’s participation in the Youth March: “Coretta King, lady soldier that she is, saw the need for taking a few more ‘Strides For Freedom.’ And, so she waved goodbye to her man, sent him on home, and then flew to Washington to walk that long mile and read to the gallant ten thousand the things King would have said to them if he had been well enough to be there. . . . She was the pinnacle of American womanhood as she gave her husband’s words all that she had” (James L. Hicks, “Where Were You?” New York Amsterdam News, 1 November 1958).

3. In a draft letter to Averell Harriman, King thanked him for his “interest and attention during the period when I was in Harlem Hospital” and expressed disappointment over his loss to Nelson Rockefeller in the recent New York gubernatorial elections: “It is a real regret to me that political realities do not permit a man of your integrity and stature to assume leadership in another of the major states, where the resoluteness of your position could be of such constructive value for civil rights” (King to Harriman, November 1958).

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

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