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Voter registration

From John Lee Tilley

On 24 June, SCLC’s newly appointed executive director Tilley wrote Ella Baker in New York City and requested her suggestions for an upcoming administrative committee meeting.1 Two days later Tilley sent this letter to King and enclosed drafts of several documents intended to advance the work of the Crusade for Citizenship.

Dr. M. L. King, Jr.
Montgomery, Alabama
309 S. Jackson Street

Dear Dr. King:

From Stanley D. Levison

In this letter concerning SCLC's fund-raising efforts, Levison stresses the importance of King maintaining a nonpartisan position in the 1960 election. Levison also warns him to beware of "heavy pressure" from some of Kennedy's Hollywood supporters who perceive King "as a personality of glamour not as a leader whose responsibilities will continue over decades and through changes of great magnitude."

Dr. Martin L. King
The Ebenezer Baptist Church
407 Auburn Avenue, N.E.
Atlanta, Georgia

To James F. Estes

In this draft letter to the lawyer for the Fayette County Civic and Welfare League, King commends the organization's "unfaltering perseverance" in its grassroots voting rights campaign in western Tennessee.1 Ella Baker had previously corresponded with Estes regarding assistance SCLC might provide in Fayette and Haywood counties, and on 22 December SCLC sent $800 to support their struggle.2

From Ralph J. Bunche

On 19 December King invited United Nations diplomat Bunche to serve on the advisory committee for SCLC's voter registration drive, the Crusade for Citizenship.1 King explained that the Crusade aimed to “implement through non-violent action the decisions the NAACP has won in the courts,” and he assured Bunche that the effort would not “conflict with the NAACP or any group in the field.” 2 Bunche, an NAACP board member, declines t

From Ella J. Baker

On 9 January veteran New York organizer Baker moved to Atlanta to coordinate plans for the Crusade for Citizenship.1 Baker first worked from a hotel room before securing office space at 208 Auburn Avenue, where she operated with scarce resources. Baker later remembered creating voter education pamphlets by clipping and pasting words from magazines and newspapers, adding, “I worked out of my vest pocket and whatever access I could have to a telephone at Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Address Delivered at a Meeting Launching the SCLC Crusade for Citizenship at Greater Bethel AME Church

On the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, SCLC held simultaneous mass meetings in twenty-one southern cities, launching its campaign to double the number of black registered voters in the South. Following an introduction by Pastor S. A. Cousin, King delivers this address to an “overflow audience” at Miami’s Greater Bethel AME Church.1


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