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    [Civil Rights]. Ralph Abernathy Archive. Comprised of eleven marvelous pieces of ephemera related to the life, ministry, and civil rights involvement of the Reverend Dr. Ralph Abernathy spanning the years 1958 through 1970. Dr. Abernathy (1926-1990), Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s, closest friend and advisor, was an early member of The Montgomery Improvement Association (taking up the presidency after the departure of King for Atlanta) and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (assuming leadership of the group following the assassination of King. Included within is an inscribed and signed magazine cover, typed statements, a short biography of Abernathy, and several church programs and reports from the West Hunter Street Baptist Church in Atlanta.

    More Information:

    Ralph Abernathy Inscribed Magazine Signed. Found on the cover of "Engage" magazine featuring a photograph of Ralph Abernathy, he has inscribed above his portrait: "To Maude & Leonard without whose love and help my life would be meaningless. Ralph David Abernathy 7/25/'69." The magazine features an interview with Abernathy.

    Ralph D. Abernathy Typed Statement Regarding the Expulsion of Students from Alabama State College. Two pages, 8.5" x 11", Montgomery, n. d. [circa March 1960]. On March 1, 1960, 1,000 students from Alabama State College, an historically black university located in Montgomery, made a march on the state capital from the campus. Days later, nine students who were believed to be the organizers of the march were expelled from the school by the State Board of Education (apparently due to pressure from the governor's office).

    Abernathy, president of the Montgomery Improvement Association, released this statement denouncing the action of the state, in part: "We are shocked to learn of the action of the State Board of Education which has expelled nine students from Alabama State College, and fail to see wherein these students have violated any law. As Christians and law-abiding citizens of a democracy, we most deeply deplore this action . . . Alabama's prestige has been lowered again . . . Once again, we as citizens of this State, must feel shame and discomfort for rash actions of its officials . . . it is one of the traditional American heritages for individuals and groups to protest against wrongs . . . and denial of rights. The...students have done this in a peaceful and orderly manner. No single instance of violence has occurred on their part . . . We protest not only the expulsion of the students but also the usurping of President Trenholm's authority . . . We call upon the community and the Nation to hear the students' side . . . We again call for non-violence and clear thinking. We stand with the students in their peaceful and orderly struggle for their rights and pledge . . . our moral, and if necessary, our financial support."

    Abernathy organized a protest, noted for having many white citizens standing by the students. The protest was a failure, though the action of the Board of Education was ruled illegal by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

    1960 Membership Campaign Meeting. One printed page, 8.5" x 11", Montgomery, March 14, 1960. Held at the First Baptist Church to benefit the Cleveland Avenue Branch of the Montgomery Y.M.C.A. The meeting included a dinner, talks by local leaders, and a slide show. At the time, civil rights leader and treasurer of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Ralph Abernathy, was the pastor of the First Baptist Church.

    Partial Program and Cover for the Morehouse College Glee Club. Two pages, 8.5" x 11", February 28, 1960. Hosted by the First Baptist Church of Montgomery.

    Program for the Joint Rededication of First Baptist Church of Montgomery. Twenty-seven pages, 8.5" x 11", April 1958. One year after the January 1957 bombing of the First Baptist Church in Montgomery, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the congregation of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church joined the members of the First Baptist church at the rededication of the bombed building. Contains a history of the church; photographs of church members; a short biography of Dr. Ralph Abernathy, pastor of the church; a day by day list of events for the weeklong celebration; and pages of congratulations from fellow churches and businesses in the Montgomery area in the rear.

    West Hunter Street Baptist Church Program. Four integral pages, 5.5" x 8.5", Atlanta, April 12, 1970. Ralph Abernathy, pastor.

    Ralph D. Abernathy Typed Statement on Accepting the Presidency of the Montgomery Improvement Association. Eight pages, 8.5" x 11", Montgomery, February 1, 1960. Shortly after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. left Montgomery for Atlanta to focus more on his role in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the MIA elected Abernathy to fill the soon-to-be vacant presidency. Abernathy accepted the gavel "with deep humility and grave determination . . . from the hand of my great and abiding friend, the Moses of the 20th century...This gavel must be sounded here in the 'Cradle of the Confederacy' until the Pharoes [sic] of this 'Egypt Land' let my people go." After outlining the differences between he and Martin Luther King Jr., he lists the injustices that they will continue to struggle against, namely police brutality, the lack of police to escort black children across the road at school, the lack of sidewalks near schools, the integration of Montgomery's schools, the opening of all public facilities to all persons and the removal of "white" and "colored" signs from the municipal airport, and the reopening of public parks.

    West Hunter Street Baptist Church Newsletter. Volume 1, Number 8. Sixteen pages, 8.5" x 11", Atlanta, April 12, 1970. With contributing editor Coretta Scott King, widow of Dr. King.

    Two Drafts of "Biographical Sketch of Ralph D. Abernathy."

    West Hunter Street Baptist Church Members' Financial Report. Five pages, 8.5" x 14", Atlanta, March 1970. Listing the total amount given by each member during the month of March 1970. Broken up into four separate lists: Ministers (including Deacons and Trustees), Adults, Youths, and Children. Names are listed alphabetically with the total amount given. A grand total is given at the end.



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