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Martin Luther King, Jr. - Threats/attacks against

FBI Special Agent in Charge, Mobile, to J. Edgar Hoover

On 7 December 1955 the FBI’s Mobile office began forwarding information on the bus boycott to FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. The special agent in charge of the office reports that someone, probably a member of the Montgomery police department, had been assigned to find “derogatory information” about King.

From George W. Davis

Davis, who taught King at Crozer, wishes him a quick recovery. King replied on 8 November.1

Dear Martin:—

You have been much in the thoughts and prayers of the Davises these latter days, but only yesterday did I find your temporary address in Brooklyn. Hence the tardiness of this note, despite the fact that we have frequently turned toward you in the spirit. Our concern for you has been deep and we rejoice now in the news of your steady recovery.

From A. J. Muste

While recovering at Harlem Hospital, King received sympathy letters from many supporters. Vice President Nixon wrote King on 22 September: “I was terribly distressed to learn of the attack made on you in New York…. To have this incident added to all of the unfortunate indignities which have been heaped upon you, is indeed difficult to understand.” Muste, a veteran pacifist and former executive secretary of FOR, offers this expression of sympathy.1

From Dexter Avenue Baptist Church

As King signed copies of Stride Toward Freedom in the shoe department at Blumstein’s department store in Harlem on 20 September, Izola Curry, a forty-two-year-old black woman, approached him. After King identified himself; Curry stabbed him in the upper left side of his chest with a seven-inch steel letter opener.1 Rushed to Harlem Hospital, King underwent a two-and-a-quarter-hour operation performed by Dr. Aubré Maynard.2 A.

Statement on Behalf of Ernest Nichols, State of New Jersey vs. Ernest Nichols, by W. Thomas McGann

On 12 June 1950, King, Walter R. McCall, Pearl E. Smith, and Doris Wilson had a confrontation with a New Jersey tavern owner, Ernest Nichols, who refused to serve them.1 King and his friends charged Nichols with violation of a state civil rights law. Nichols’s statement, prepared by his lawyer, defends his refusal to serve the group and his brandishing of a gun. McGann implies wrongdoing on the part of one of the complainants, who was described as “quite insistent that Mr.

To Aubre de L. Maynard

On 20 September 1958 Izola Ware Curry, a mentally disturbed African American woman, stabbed King in a Harlem department store as he autographed copies of Stride Toward Freedom, his memoir of the Montgomery bus protest.1 At Harlem Hospital a team of physicians led by Maynard, the hospital’s director of surgery, successfully removed a letter opener lodged perilously close to King’s heart.


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