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Resolutions, First Southwide Institute on Nonviolent Resistance to Segregation held on 22 July-24 July 1959

Sixty ministers and activists attended the institute at Atlanta’s Spelman College and heard addresses by such advocates of nonviolence as King, William Stuart Nelson, Richard Gregg, and James Lawson.1 The following resolutions were approved at the conclusion of the gathering, which was sponsored by SCLC, FOR, and CORE.2

To J. Charles Whitfield

Texas state representative J. Charles Whitfield wrote King an admiring letter on 5 August and requested advice on dealing with school desegregation in Houston.1

Mr. J. Charles Whitfield
The State of Texas House of Representatives
Austin, Texas

Dear Mr. Whitfield:

On returning to the office I found your letter of August 5, on my desk. I deeply regret that absence from the city for several days has delayed my reply.

To Lewis Happ

In a 9 May letter, Happ wrote of his hurt and frustration at reading stories of racist incidents in the Montgomery Improvement Association's newsletter: "I begin to read where that some injustice have been done to my peoples and there is absoluty nothing done about it but singing and praying and reading scripture lessions." Happ continued, "its just makes my heart ach to just see us drift back in to slavery agane." 1

To G. W. Sanders

During a 14 May address in Tallahassee, King voiced his opposition to the death penalty for four white men accused of raping a black teenager in Florida.1 Two weeks later Sanders chastised King for his remarks, reminding him that "just before you came to Tallahassee to talk clemency for four white men, two colored men sat in the death chair about forty-five minutes behind each other." Sanders also questioned King's right to "speak out in terms for clemency for guilty white men for raping a col

To C. Kenzie Steele

On 20 February eleven Tallahassee demonstrators were arrested and charged with disturbing the peace for protesting at a local chain store. After Judge John Rudd ordered the protesters to either pay a $300 fine or serve a sixty-day jail sentence, eight of the eleven elected jail.1 Two days after the verdict, King sends encouragement to the eight students via SCLC vice president C. K.

Interview on "Front Page Challenge"

On a popular Canadian television quiz show and interview program, King distinguishes between legal desegregation, which he believes may be achieved in "ten or fifteen years," and "genuine, inter-group, interpersonal living," which will take much longer. Appearing as a mystery guest, King was hidden from the panel, who attempted to guess his identity before this interview took place.1 This transcript was taken from Canadian Broadcasting Company film footage of the program.

To Ella J. Baker

King suggests that Baker prepare a series of press releases for the upcoming "Institute on Non-Violent Resistance to Segregation" at Spelman College. In her 7 July reply, Baker detailed plans for the conference and informed King that his "suggestions regarding press releases will be followed." On 22 July, King delivered the keynote address at the conference, which was co-sponsored by SCLC, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), and FOR.1


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