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From Warren Olney III

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Author: Olney, Warren (United States. Department of Justice); Caldwell, A. B. (Arthur Bunyan) (United States. Department of Justice)

Date: September 7, 1956

Location: Washington, D.C.

Genre: Letter

Topic: Voter registration


Two Department of Justice officials, Assistant Attorney General Olney of the Criminal Division and Arthur B. Caldwell, chief of the division's Civil Rights Section, respond to the 27 August letter from Montgomery bus boycott leaders to President Eisenhower.1

Reverend M. L. King, Jr., President 
The Montgomery Improvement Association 
530 South Union Street 
Montgomery, Alabama

Dear Reverend King:

This acknowledges your letter of August 27, 1956 with respect to alleged threats and violence directed against Negro citizens of Montgomery, including the bombings of certain homes on January 30, February 1, and August 24 of this year. Your letter also states that thousands of Negroes of the State of Alabama are being deprived of the right to vote because of their race.

The information concerning the alleged violence, the activities of the White Citizens Council and the local officers, does not appear to indicate violations of federal criminal statutes. We are concerned however, with the statement concerning the alleged denial of the right to vote on the ground of race or color. If you know of specific instances of this, and will furnish us with full information concerning the same, you may be assured that it will receive prompt and careful consideration.

Assistant Attorney General 
Criminal Division

By: [signed
Chief, Civil Rights Section

1.Warren Olney III (1904-1978) was an Oakland, California, native who became a close associate of Earl Warren, serving with him in the Alameda County district attorney’s office and, after Warren became California attorney general, as assistant attorney general. In 1953 Olney became assistant attorney general in charge of the U.S. Justice Department’s criminal division. Olney helped draft the 1957 Civil Rights Act. Arthur Brann Caldwell (1906-1984) began working for the Department of Justice in 1935 and from 1951 to 1957 was chief of its Civil Rights Section. During the 1957 Little Rock desegregation crisis he was called upon to negotiate with Orval Faubus, governor of his home state of Arkansas.

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

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