Did One Woman’s 1966 Letter to Dr. King Predict the Plight of Suburbs Like Maywood?

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Martin Luther King, Jr. in his study in Atlanta. | The King Center 

Monday, January 16, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

The letter is dated Aug. 8, 1966. It’s written by June Alder and is addressed to Dr. Martin Luther King, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, 366 E. 47th Street, Chicago.

Alder writes as a “white woman” who wants to express her “sorrow and ask [King’s] forgiveness for the hate and violence” he experienced during the Chicago Freedom Movement, a campaign launched in 1966 in order to bring awareness to housing discrimination and urban racism in the northern cities.

While marching through Chicago neighborhoods and suburbs like Cicero, King and his supporters were pelted with rocks and spat upon — the reactions of people, white people, who were just as terrified by the implications of integration as blacks were terrified by segregation’s harsh realities.

Mrs. Alder channels those fears compassionately and thoughtfully in her 1966 letter, which is also prescient, as it predicts the social conditions that would come after a decades-long period of white flight from areas that were slowly opening up to blacks — areas like Maywood and the surrounding suburbs.

This letter was easily accessed from the King Center’s digital archives, where anyone can plow through many of the nearly one million documents, including letters, speeches, handwritten notes and photos, that are associated with King’s rich life.

This MLK Day, experience the man for yourself by clicking here. VFP

Mrs. Alder’s 1968 letter to Dr. Martin Luther King

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