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The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr. Volume V: Threshold of a New Decade, January 1959-December 1960

Cover of Volume 5.
Clayborne Carson, Tenisha Armstrong, Susan Carson, Adrienne Clay, and Kieran Taylor, eds.
University of California Press at Berkeley and Los Angeles

Threshold of a New Decade, Volume Five of the planned fourteen-volume series, illustrates the growing sophistication and effectiveness of King and the organizations he led, while providing an unparalleled look into the surprising emergence of the sit-in protests that sparked the social struggles of the 1960s.

In this pivotal period of his career, King, who had just recovered from a near-fatal stabbing, traveled to India in early 1959 to meet with Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and other associates of Mahatma Gandhi. This high profile visit solidified King's position as an international symbol for human rights and bolstered his political standing at home. After returning to Montgomery, King confronted the continuing ineffectiveness of his Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) by demanding personnel changes and agreeing to relocate to Atlanta at the beginning of 1960. King's move took place just before African American students in the South reclaimed the energy of the Montgomery bus boycott with their bold sit-in protests, which King predicted would become "an integral part of the history which is reshaping the world, replacing a dying order with modern democracy." Named an advisor to the activists who formed the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in April, King was also preoccupied with his own trial on perjury charges resulting from an audit of his tax returns, charges of which he was found not guilty. King was again arrested in October after participating in a sit-in protest in Atlanta. His resulting imprisonment led presidential candidate John F. Kennedy to phone his sympathies to King's wife, Coretta, a move many credit for providing the margin of victory in the close election of 1960.