Founded in 1935 by Mary McLeod Bethune, the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) was the first national coalition of African American women’s organizations. The most influential national women’s organization during the civil rights movement at the time, the NCNW represented 850,000 members, including Martin Luther King’s wife, Coretta Scott King. In 1957 King addressed the NCNW at their annual convention, telling the women, “I have long admired this organization, its great work, and its noble purposes” (King, 9 November 1957).
King offers several proposals to offset criticisms that SCLC’s voter registration efforts had faltered. He recommends publicizing the group’s recent achievements and hiring Bayard Rustin “with the understanding that if any undue criticism” arose “that would prove embarrassing to him or the organization, he would quietly resign.”
In this letter to Ted Brown, the assistant director of the AFL-CIO's civil rights department, King criticizes an article in Jet that described SCLC’s “clergy-backed Dixie vote campaign” as having made little progress, while trumpeting the NAACP’s efforts.1 King insists that the information is largely false and suggests it is part of an effort to divide SCLC and the NAACP: “There is nothing that arouses my ire more than those individuals in distant cities who will use the power of their pens to cr