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    [Montgomery Improvement Association]. Music, Poems, and a Play Sent to MIA in Support of the Bus Boycott and Civil Rights Movement. The Montgomery Bus Boycott, and the wider civil rights movement, garnered international attention and inspired artists and musicians to fight for change through art, music, and theatre with the hope that it would rally the people to action. Comprised of over thirty letters, sheet music, books, poems, and plays spanning the years 1941 through 1967. This inspired collection of ephemera contains works by prominent figures in the civil rights movement such as Langston Hughes, Lester A. Walton, Ella Ruth Reddick, and Clarence L. Young Sr., Texas Senator Barbara Jordan, et al.

    More Information:

    Beatrice Thomas Howard. Poems and Quotations. New York: Beatrice Howard Publishing Company, 1956. 8vo, 36 pages. Printed wraps.

    [Langston Hughes]. Copy of "Brotherly Love: A Little Letter to the White Citizens Councils of the South." Two handwritten pages, 8.5" x 11", n. p., August 18, 1956. Originally published on page 142 of the weekly magazine "The Nation," poet and civil rights activist Langston Hughes (1902-1967) directed this poem at the White Citizens' Councils, asking: "If I found it in my heart to love you, / And if I thought I really could, / If I said, 'Brother, I forgive you' / I wonder, would it do you any good?" After announcing his triumph over oppression, he says: "Now you're mad / Because I won't ride in the back end of your bus. / When I answer, 'Anyhow, I'm gonna love you,' / Still and yet you want to make a fuss." He ends by proclaiming: "Now listen, white folks! / In line with Reverend King down in Montgomery- / Also because the Bible says I must - / I'm gonna love you -yes, I will! Or BUST!"

    The White Citizens' Councils were created by middle and upper class, white segregationists in reaction to the 1954 Supreme Court Brown v. Board of Education decision integrating schools. Their members used economic and social tactics in addition to violence to keep black citizens in the South oppressed.

    Two Poems by Melvin Love. Four page booklet, 5.5" x 8.75", n. p., 1957. Titled "A Poet Speaks," this small booklet contains two poems, "The Worth of Christian Faith & Religion" and "Rev. M. L. King and the Montgomery Negroes," by Melvin Love, "barber, songwriter, & poet." The second poem praises the efforts of King and the black citizens of Montgomery during the bus boycott.

    Trezzvant William Anderson Autograph Note. One page, 5" x 3", n. p., September 19, 1957. Anderson (1906-1963) is best remembered as an author and journalist who reported the happenings of the civil rights movement in the South. He writes: "Lionel Hampton/337 W. 138th St./Ny, Ny/re: music/mention the 'textbook' idea."

    [Book]. Lillian Hayes. Knock, Knock Let Us In and Give Us the Key. L. Hayes, circa 1956. 8vo, 48 pages. Printed wraps. Hayes was born the child of former slaves and here gives a biography of their lives.

    Lolette H. Fowler. Song: "March on Washington," circa 1957. Comprised of five stanzas sung to the tune of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." Attached to the lyrics sheet is a handwritten note, possibly in Fowler's hand, regarding the song: "This song was sung by those persons who left New Orleans en route to Washington during the pilgrimage."

    Dave Deutsch. Sheet Music: "Hand In Hand." Huntington [New York]: A Fighting Man Publication, 1946.

    Mary Dee. Song: "If Jesus Came to Your House." Recorded by Tex Ritter in 1957. Inscribed at the lower right corner: "Best Wishes / Mary Dee."

    India M. Woods Gilchrist. Poem: "A Second Leader is Born." Comprised of ten verses, this copy of poem praises Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The poem was sent to Dr. King's friend and personal secretary, Maude Ballou, who writes that she received it June 20, 1957.

    Typescript for the Play "The Housekeeper." Written by playwright Burt Marnik, pseudonym of Stanley Weinstein. Forty-five pages, bound in a blue folder. The first of three plays in a trilogy, the cast features a married white man and woman and their black housekeeper who is involved in the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

    Sheet Music: "Nine Brown Heroes and Heroines." Five pages, 8.5" x 11.25", Pueblo [Colorado], December 23, 1957. Sheet music commemorating the integration of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, on September 23, 1957. Written by Mary Maloney with Lyrics by A. H. Hamilton.

    Flyer: "The Alabama Bus." One printed page, 9" x 12", n. p., [circa 1956]. Touted as "the biggest record hit out," the controversial 1956 album "The Alabama Bus" was recorded by Detroit preacher Will Hairston, known as the "The Hurricane of the Motor City," at the Hastings Street studio of Joe Von Battle and was "banned by all radio stations." The album provides a narrative of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and allegedly contains the first mention of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in a blues or gospel album. 

    Sheet Music: "Color Doesn't Matter" with Related Documents. One page, 9.5" x 12.25", n. p., n. d. [circa 1958]. Original sheet music with lyrics by Margaret Chandler and music by Jennie M. Brockway and Daphnnie Orme. [and:] R. K. Walker Typed Letter Signed. One page, 8.5" x 11", Louisville [Kentucky], June 4, 1958. Chandler sent the song to Walker in an attempt to get it published. Walker sent this letter informing her that his is sorry "that there is nothing I can do to help you have this song published or recorded. I discussed it with several of my associates and friends in this field, and although they all agreed it was a good song, they all also felt it was too controversial at this time to do anything with." [and:] Margaret Chandler Autograph Letter Signed. One page, 8.5" x 11", Bowling Green [Kentucky], October, n. y. [1958]. Writing to Maude Ballou, personal secretary to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Chandler asks that she "pass my song and the accompanying letter, on to a prominent member, either man or woman, of Rev. King's church" and informs her that she has also included "eight stamps for the return of my song in case you can find no one interested." [and:] Maude Ballou Typed Letter. One page, 8.5" x 11", [Montgomery], October 9, 1958, to Margaret Chandler acknowledging "receipt of your manuscript and a copy of a letter to you that you mailed to Rev. King." She further adds that "Rev. King is ill and is not expected to resume his activities until about three months from now. Please let me know just what disposition should be made of your music and letter."

    "A Song Proposed for the Protest Movement." One page, 8.5" x 11", n. p., n. d. [circa June 1956]. Sung to the tune of the spiritual "Old Time Religion," the song contains four separate lines of lyrics. The first represents "Protest," the second "Unity," the third "Love," and the fourth "Brotherhood." The recipient of the lyrics, originally sent in a Western Union Telegram, is now faded to the point of illegibility.

    Poem: "Ode to Our Dick." One page, 5.5" x 8.5", Brooklyn [New York], January 15, 1957. The poem, written by an anonymous author, concerns a black man who leaves the Southern United States "To sneak behind the Iron Curtain into Hungary, "which at the time functioned as a satellite state for the Soviet Union, leaving behind "black fellow men." He has left behind those fighting for integration in "suffering Montgomery; Where citizens of color black are bombed, and stoned and shot Because they ask in humble tones improvement of their lot." A copy of this poem was sent to the Montgomery Improvement Association as well as the Library of Congress, Amsterdam News, and the New York Times.

    Typescript "The White Father." One page, 8.5" x 11", n. p., n. d. [circa May 1956]. Tells the story of a white preacher from Montgomery, Alabama, who came to the Concord Baptist Church of Christ in Brooklyn in an effort to end the bus boycott. The unknown author writes, in part: "It shames and disgusts thinking Negroes today that they would listen to a white southern preacher no matter how blinkingly religious he appeared to be. Scratch him in the presence of his folks and you will discover what he really is, not more but a hundred times more prejudice that [sic] those who do not profess so much religious fervor. The New Negro is fast losing faith in preachers who with uplifted hands lead their people away from getting the Kingdom of God on Earth...For if St. Peter is white and stands at the gates, we may expect a fight against disCRIMINATION AND SEGREGATION EVEN IN Heaven."

    Louis T. Achille Typed Letter Signed. Two pages, 8.5" x 11", Lyon [France], June 20, 1957, to Leonard Ballou regarding a spiritual that he has written inspired by the Montgomery Bus Boycott (December 1955-December 1956). He writes, in part: "Monsignor Varin de la Brumeliére, Roman Catholic Bishop of my home-island, Martinique, has been in touch with the Reverend Martin Luther King about the latter's magnificent work during the boycott of the Montgomery bus system. Some of us, in France, have been following these events along the whole front of desegragation [sic] in the Deep South with great sympathy. As a great lover of spirituals and as one who experienced Jim-Crow in the South, especially in Atlanta, I sympathized whole-heartedly with the boycott and had the idea of the spiritual, the words of which I am enclosing . . . Such a simple song is fairly meaningless musically without the score, which, -believe it or not-, has not been written down yet. It will be simpler to send you a recording of it by myself and some members of my Negro spiritual choir . . . If this expression of sympathy meets with the understanding of the people of Montgomery . . . We wish them, under the leadership of the Reverend King, complete victory in all fields where human dignity has not been fully recognized." The letter illustrates the impact the boycott had not only in the United States, but around the world. Attached is found the words to the song referenced in the letter, in English and in French. With the original transmittal envelope.

    Lester A. Walton Typed Letter Signed. One page, 6"x 7", New York, March 1, 1956, to Rev. Ralph D. Abernathy, in part: "Heartiest congratulations to Negro citizens of Montgomery for momentous, heart-warming campaign they are waging for civil rights and human dignity . . . Local leaders of this historic movement are to be commended for counseling members of the race against violence, and to register their protestation in prayer and passive resistance. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., in sermon delivered at the Dexter Baptist Church [sic], is quoted as expressing faith in man." He ends his letter by stating that he is transmitting his song, "Faith in Thee," which is also attached.

    Nettie W. Corrigan. Sheet Music: "Oh, God of My Being." Detroit: Nettie W. Corrigan, 1954.

    Benjamin Francisco A. Jaime. Sheet Music: "A Musical Setting to Psalm 24." New York: B.F.H. Jaime, 1955. With lyrics in English and Spanish.

    Lester A. Walton. Sheet Music: "Faith in Me," circa 1956. With music by Margaret Bonds. Inscribed: "Compliments of Lester Walton."

    Ella Ruth Reddick. Sheet Music: "Walk, Brother, Walk," circa 1957. Three staves worth of music, written entirely in pencil. Reddick was the wife Lawrence Reddick, historian and biographer of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who accompanied the King's to Indian in the late 1950s.

    Sallie Ridings-Payne. Sheet Music: "A Prayer from the Rockies." Caldwell [Idaho]: Sarah E. Payne, circa 1957. Inscribed and signed by the publisher.

    Fran Thomas. Sheet Music: "My Feet are Tired," circa 1957. Copied entirely in pencil on March 16, 1957.

    Eddie Weir and Bob Mason. Sheet Music: "God's Colors." New York: Robert D. Mason Music Publishing Co., 1956

    Sheet Music: "We Are Americans Too." New York: Handy Brothers Music Co. Inc., 1941. 8vo, 12 pages.  Written and arranged by Charles Cooke, Andy Razaf, and Eubie Blake. "Arrangements also, for glee clubs by well-known composers and arrangers." With sheet music and lyrics to the song "Aintcha Got Music" by W. C. Handy.

    Joe Elder. Sheet Music: "Colored Boy Driving a Bus!" Four copies in all, each has a "National Negro Civic Association" sticker at the lower edge.

    Eddie Weir and Bob Mason. Sheet Music: "A Brighter Day." New York: Robert D. Mason Music Publishing Co., 1956

    Sheet Music: "Walk On In Freedom" with Autograph Letter Signed by the Author. One page with integral blank, 9.5" x 12.5", Peekskill [New York], April 8, 1957. Lyrics and music by Samuel A. Boyea.

    With a transcription of the lyrics, on onionskin paper, submitted to entertainer and civil rights activist Ossie Davis, Alvin Theatre, April 6, 1957, and Alabama State Teachers College (Alabama State University), April 8, 1957.

    Accompanying the music is a two page, autograph letter by Boyea to Dr. Lawrence D. Reddick (1910-1995), friend and biographer of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., also dated April 8, 1957, "submitting music & lyrics for a song dedicated to the spirit of those who marched in Montgomery. I have sent same to the Bklyn [Brooklyn] NAACP who are staging a meet in Manhattan Centre April 25 at which Harry Belafonte will appear and sing. I wonder if you would be good enough to present this to Rev. M. L. King. I would be glad to share proceeds with your Association in the event we get Mr. Belafonte to record same before May 17."

    Clarence L. Young Sr. Vinyl Record: "God Keeps His Finger On Me" with Autograph Affidavit Twice Signed. The song was produced in the recording studio of Henry O. Berman in Baltimore, Maryland, sometime in late 1956-early 1957. With the album is a sworn testimony by Young stating: "I Clarence L. Young Sr. Do hereby swear that the words and Tune of this sacred song "God keeps his fingers on me" Are my own original words an [sic] tune The singing voice on the record accompaning [sic] this affidavit Is also mine, accompanied by my blind son William Andrew Young at piano."

    SCLC Tenth Anniversary Convocation Program. Nine pages, 5.25" x 8", Atlanta, August 14-17, 1967. With a message from SCLC President Martin Luther King Jr. 

    Martin Luther King Jr. Speech: "The Crisis in America's Cities." Six pages, 8.5" x 11", Atlanta, August 15, 1967. "An Analysis of Social Disorder and a Plan of Action Against Poverty, Discrimination, and Racism in Urban America."

    Barbara Jordan Address: "Civil Rights and Politics." Four pages, 8.5" x 11", Atlanta, August 15, 1967. Given to the Tenth Anniversary Convention of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference by Texas State Senator Jordan.

    SCLC Tenth Anniversary Convention Banquet Speech Typescript. Five pages, 8.5" x 11", Atlanta, August 14, 1967. With introduction by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. keynote address by Sidney Poitier, toast by Dorothy F. Cotton, and award presentation to Sidney Poitier by Andrew J. Young, executive director of the SCLC.

    [Coretta Scott King]. Typed Letter Signed with a Secretarial Signature. One page, 8.5" x 11", on Southern Christian Leadership Conference letterhead, Atlanta, July 31, 1967, to Mr. and Mrs. Ballou inviting them to the Tenth Annual Convention of the SCLC. With 8.5" x 6" pre-registration form.

    James H. Jones Autograph Letter Signed. One page, 8.5" x 11", on onionskin paper, Columbus [Ohio], July 14, 1957. Addressed to Maude Ballou, Jones writes that he and his wife "visited out west after leaving Montgomery. We arrived home too late to be in the march on Washington . . . It's imperative too, that I go to Washington D.C. next mo. to see Ambassador Padmore of Liberia in regards to my trip to his country . . . I will put your name and address in my memo so, I will have it while in Africa. Kindly remember me to our boy Rev. King there." With a 3.5" x 5", black and white photograph of Jones.



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