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Martin Luther King was an American Baptist minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968. King led the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott and in 1957 became the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). With the SCLC, he led an unsuccessful 1962 struggle against segregation in Albany, Georgia, and helped organize the nonviolent 1963 protests in Birmingham, Alabama. He also helped organize the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. On October 14, 1964, King won the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance.

Sammy Davis, Jr., arguably the most versatile member of “The Rat Pack” that also featured Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, was a singer, musician, actor, comedian, dancer and master of all things entertainment. Davis, Jr. became one of the first African Americans to appear on television and was one of entertainment’s most beloved personalities.

Offered here is a special typed letter dated March 28, 1961 that was signed and also includes a handwritten note from Martin Luther King to Sammy Davis, Jr. The two-page letter has “Martin Luther King, Jr Ebenezer Baptist Church 407 Auburn Avenue, N.E. Atlanta, Georgia” printed on the top. The letter reads:

Mr. Sammy Davis, Jr.

THE SANDS

Las Vegas, Nevada

 

Dear Sammy

The endless problems generated by our great FREEDOM MOVEMNT can only be compared to a river that never stops flowing. Fortunately, its progress too is like a river. Slowly—but surely and relentlessly—the Movement keeps pressing insistently forward step by step. One such step, in my opinion, was the historic affair at Carnegie Hall on February 27, which you personally initiated and organized, then crowned with your astonishing artistry.

Not very long ago, it was customary for Negro artists to hold themselves aloof from the struggle for equality, in the belief that the example of their personal success was in itself a contribution in that it helped to disprove the myth of Negro inferiority—which indeed it did.

Today, however, our great Negro artists feel tat this is an essentially defensive position which does not meet the needs of our time when the Negro people as a whole are vigorously striding towards freedom. Today greats like Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, Mahalia Jackson and yourself, of course, are not content to merely identify with the struggle. They actively participate in it, as artists and as citizens, adding the wight of their enormous prestige and thus helping to move the struggle forward.

Who can measure the impact, the inspirational effect, upon the millions of Negroes who have learned through thousands of grapevies that one of their idols, Sammy Davis, Jr., was responsible for rallying some of the greatest stars of Hollywood to come (end of page 1)

Mr. Davis

March 28, 1961

Page Two

forward and publicly support the great cause of Negro freedom? On campuses and in communities throughout the south they are still talking about it and will continue to. I assure you, for many a long month to come.

It is primarily in behalf of these people –the embattled students an the many other thousands of southern freedom fighters, including my colleagues, the four ministers now being legally persecuted by the State of Alabama, that I wish to thank you deeply and sincerely for the truly significant contribution you have made, and, I am certain, will continue to make in the future.

I hope our schedules will dovetail sometime soon so that we can spend a little time together under more relaxed conditions.

With warm personal regards to you and your charming wife, I am Sincerely yours, (signed “Martin” in blue pen) Martin Luther King, Jr.”

King then hand wrote in blue pen underneath the “Km” type “P.S. I’m sorry I had to leave Miami before I planned and therefore didn’t get to write the letter to Frank Sinatra. If you will send me his address I will write him immediately.” A wonderful letter from Dr. King with great content to one of the best entertainers of all-time. This comes with a LOA from PSA/DNA for King’s signature.

1961 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Signed Typed Letter to Sammy Davis Jr. Thanking Him For Contributions To Freedom Movement (PSA/DNA)
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Number Bids: 8
Auction closed on Monday, August 24, 2020.
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