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    Martin Luther King, Jr. Denies Involvement of Communists in the Civil Rights Movement

    Martin Luther King, Jr. Typed Letter Signed "Martin L. King Jr." with related documents. J. Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI, had his agents to keep a file on King and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference beginning in 1957. For five years, they came up empty handed, but in 1962 they discovered that one of Dr. King's closest advisors, lawyer Stanley Levison, who often helped write speeches with King, had been, at one time, a leader in the Communist Party USA. Despite the fact that FBI records show that Levison had left the Party years before and had cut all ties to them, Hoover still worried about his influence over King. A second person, Hunter Pitts O'Dell, a director of the SCLC, had also been involved with the Communist Party during the 1950s, but had left to work with the civil rights movement. The Bureau never found any connection between King and the Communist Party, though they continued to insist he was a pawn in their struggle for power.

    For his part, Dr. King always vehemently denied any ties to the communists as in this King TLS. Three pages, 8.5" x 11", on Southern Christian Leadership Conference letterhead, Atlanta, May 12, 1964, to Richard M. Dellinger of Noblesville Senior High School (Noblesville, Indiana) allaying his concern of a communist involvement of the civil rights movement. In part: "You are rightly concerned about the question of Communist infiltration of the civil rights movement. We, too, are concerned and forever on guard against any such infiltration. Nothing would be more tragic than that this movement, based on the Judeo-Christian heritage of brotherhood and nonviolence, be subverted to ends other than those of a truly democratic United States of America. In recent months several questions have been raised about activities within the [SCLC] with implications that we have been 'collaborators' with known Communist or 'politically naive' in our association." He includes a recent example of a photograph supposedly showing him at a "Communist training school" which was "...distributed by two strong racist groups in Georgia and Louisiana." The school had recently "...brought Negroes and whites together for a few days of fellowship and dialogue. It was the bringing together of Negroes and whites that aroused the segregationists of the State of Tennessee and other southern States..." He addresses the concern of Hunter Pitts O'Dell's (aka Jack O'Dell) involvement in the movement: "The other question commonly raised is the presence of Jack H. O'Dell on our staff...When it came to the attention of SCLC, as well as my own, that it appeared that Mr. O'Dell had had some relationship with the Communist party we asked for his temporary resignation pending an investigation, we concluded that Mr. O'Dell had no present connection with the Communist party...When it became evident...that Mr. O'Dell's employment by SCLC could be used against the organization by segregationists and race baiters, it was mutually agreed that Mr. O'Dell should terminate his employment." He concludes by stating: "There is so great an inconsistency between the philosophy and the practice of Communism that we cannot get so alarmed about subversion that we fail to make the American dream a reality. As we are true to the Constitutional promise of liberty and justice for all, we will remove any threat of Communism, Black Nationalism, Fascism or violence." With the original transmittal envelope.

    Also included are Two Typed Statements by Dr. King in response to charges of communist affiliation. The first, three pages, 8.5" x 11", n. d. [circa 1963], in refuting a charge of communist ties in an article by Joseph Alsop and J. Edgar Hoover. King asserts that Hoover "...has allowed himself to aid and abet the fallacious claims of Southern racists and the extreme right-wing elements." He quotes Robert F. Kennedy when he dismissed the question of communist involvement in the civil rights movement and then issues a challenge to "...all who raise the 'Red' issue...come forward and provide real evidence which contradicts this stand of SCLC." The second, two pages, 8.5" x 11", Atlanta, July 25, 1963, refuting an article found in the Atlanta Constitution by Bill Shipp making a similar charge with regard to O'Dell's employment in the organization.

    With an eight page pamphlet titled "How Should a Christian View Communism?" The article is taken from Dr. King's book "Strength To Love" and provides a detailed view of communism from King himself.


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    Auction Dates
    October, 2012
    4th-5th Thursday-Friday
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