King-Levison wiretaps

April 8, 1967 4:34 PM - A conversation between King and Levison four days after King's speech against the Vietnam war at Riverside Church in New York. Levison describes some of his misgivings about the speech. King acknowledges that the speech may have been "politically unwise but morally wise."

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Time Initial IC Activity Recorded
4:31 PM I

[Word redacted] Black 7868- 1-


Let s talk about the weakness of speech. There were a lot of reporters who picked out things I said and said was whitewashing HANOI. Well it is hard to believe what we are doing and I really feel that someone of influence has to say that the United States is wrong, and everybody is afraid to say it.

LEVISON: Now MARTIN I don't agree with that, WALT LIPMAN and John EMMITT HUGHES has said what you have said.

KING: But the difference is they don't get as much response as I would.

Levison: They are not Movement Leaders, that is the difference.

KING: The thing is I am to stay in my place and I am a Negro leader and I should not stray from a position of moderation. I can't do that.

Sat. 4/8/57


Levison I am troubled in this speech of yours because I thought you were trying to bring together too many complex de[chopped text] that need more dealing with, and I think it gives an unbalanced impression. So I cite WALTER LIPMAN because he has said the same thing but piece by piece. In your speech you covered from a Vietnam Pesant to Hanoi and you seemed to cover too much ground. The speech was not so balanced. [indecipherable] this speech did not tipify your expression on this subject. I do not think it was a good expression of you but apparently you [t]hink it was.

KING; Well I was probably politically unwise but will not agree that I was Morally Unwise? I figure I was Politically Unwise but Morally Wise. I think I have a role to play which may be unpopular. I would say that I may not have been couscious enough that may be. I say no matter what I would have said PATTERSON would have written this kind of editoral (Note Much Static and King is very difficult to hear almost Inaudable)

KING I don't know if careful thinking would have caused me to revise the speech. They discuss on point (inaudable)

LEVISON: I dont think that would be much a point had it not been picked up by that nut from the Jewis War Vetrans and then he joined it by saying that the whole speech could ha have been written in HANOI. But that does not trouble me. I feel that the whole speech was not a typical analysis that you would make.

KING Well I outlined the speech but I did not write it out and I probably would have not made that statement but.. I read the notes closely. But I spent a whole afternoon thinking about this speech and I thought I had to say something, I felt that it was time to tell the nation why HANOI isn't quick to leap at the so called proposals of this country.

LEVISON: I say that it is a speech for (indeciphrable) people who are educated but some of the things that you say that new and sorteling are had t accept. You launched into an attack on impearlism itself which is an attack on the system and not only the war. Now many persons are going to agree with you but these are persons more intelligent than the average person and you have to get to the average person.

King Welllets take Kennedy: You have about 30 senators that are dovish about our involvement but none have come {over???} like I did. What I did was go beyond the point that anyone had done who is of influence. I have just become so disgusted with the way people of America are being brainwashed. I can now see how Hitler could do what he did in Europe. I am not saying we are acting as Hitler but we are being brainwashed by the Administration and they are determined to justify what they are doing. The Washington Post got on me for saying that we are on the road for invasion. And just yesterday Gen Ki said that they would probably invade Hanoi to stop those raids by the North Vietnamese.

Levison: Let me make a point about the profits: this is the way you are speaking today but in those days they spoke in a small country and reached a small segment of the peoples but today you reach a greater group and there are a number of persons who are Anti you and distort what you say. So the forces that control the press and TV and they don't like what you say they can distort what you say. So it would not be as if you spoke if those days speaking to one small city…I am afraid you will become identified as a leader of a fringe movement when you are much more. But if mistakes are made you can be cast in the light of someone that should be part of a fringe movement.

King: That's the only thing I dislike about what the press did. The Washington Post and even the NY Times. I feel that they can do damage by pushing me over to a particular extremist point of view to the left.

Levison: That's right they would say you don't have good judgment.

King: Yes they would never say I am immoral but the other.

Levison: Yes that you are not exercising good judgment that you are a fine man but are being misled.

Levison: I wondered why you asked Hal Lowenstein to prepare the speech for next Saturday.

King: No reason.

Levison: I don't know which side he will approach the subject from but I think you should have this subject more under control than you do. I feel it should be done with care in expressing your point of view xxx well. Then I would like to run it as a fullpaid ad in the NY Sunday Times. So it will explain your judgment and offset the editorial attacks if any.

King: I think that is an excellent idea.

Levison: I will undertake to do this.

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Activity Recorded

KING: No to pay for it.

LEVINSON: I think it will pay for itself but if not will see that it is paid for.

KING: think that would be very good.

LEVINSON: suggest it not be in the news section but in the news of the week section Now during the week if AL SOWESTEIN makes the first draft then I can look at it and live it to HARRY (WATEL) to see it then we can agree.

KING: Well I have to go to California and I will be speaking at Stanford Friday in California so I will be there until the ralley. I set aside Tuesday to look at it in Atlanta.I don't think that LOWENSTEIN.

LEVINSON: Maybe Harry and I could start working on this and maybe a draft could be sent on to you in Atlanta by Monday. Now what to do about LOWENSTEIN.

KING: I could tell him that I decided to do it myself.

LEVINSON: O.K. I am seeing Harry tomorrow. I don't mind doing this as long as we are pointing towards an ad in the Times because this speech was becoming you stand on Peace and I thought it needed more expansion. I would like seen added to this that e diotrial that you mentioned by SEENGENTHALER of the Nashville Tennessee and do you have a copy of it.

KING: Andy does. I'm going to Chicago tonight but I will be back in Atlanta by Monday.

LEVINSON: I'm glad we had this discussion it brought out this idea of the Ad in the NY Times.

Date 4/8/67

April 9, 1967 6:18 PM - A conference call following up on the Riverside speech with King, Levison and Harry Wachtel, another New York adviser to King. The men discuss plans for King's appearance at an anti-war rally outside the United Nations on April 15. Other people discussed in the transcript include activist Rabbi Abraham Heschel, Stokely Carmichael , leader of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), SCLC strategist James Bevel and boxer Cassius Clay (later Mohammed Ali).

White 2956-18-20
CONFERENCE CALL to STANLEY IE VISON From MARTIN LUTHER KING and HARRY WACHTEL conference Operator says that they Cannot reach HARRY WAXHTEL and they will call back later. End [sentence redacted]

[sentence redacted]

KING: I just want to talk about that speech: have you and harry been able to talk about it yet:


WACHTEL: hr was a hesitation on COMMENGERS part to write to the TIMES. I got this thru BENNETT: I told BENNETT to talk to HESCHEL who was ready to act. RABI HESCHEL called me this morning upset that he was prepared to go forward and any attack on you is an attack on him etc. He did authorize me to expand his answer that you analogising is not comparing american Policies to Hitlers policies. He says that I could write his answer. BENNET last night urged us to have his reprint in time for the raley it should be a pamplhet given to the people as DR. KING speaks on Viet Nam. He now fells that it is a necessity. RABI HESCHEL wondererd if he can still convince you to pull out. He thinks that American indians marching in the parade as the first victims of American Genicide pulls down the parade and he wants you to restrain the parade in the things that are done in your name. Dr. Bennett asked me about you becoming a Co-Chairman in the CONCERNED CLERGY. He said he would be thrilled if you would. He says this would make you more connected with laymen and clergy. Stanley and I think it would be great if could get you invited to See the PoPe in the future.

KING: I don't know where to start.

LEVISON; Well start on the POPE.

KING: Wellit would be about Time I think I could go in September.

WACHTEL Well im talking about 72 hours get you to Italy and then to the POPE. We thing "STANLEY and I" that you should have some correspondence with the pope in the way of a personal letter.

LEVISON: Welllet's pass that by for now we will firm that up later. Now about becoming Chairman or CO Chairman of the CONCERNED CLERGY.

KING: I should make it clear to them that I will not be able to make all the meetings because most of them are in NY I could send a representative.

WACHTEL: Wellfrom the telephone conversations they don't expect you to be intouch all the time.

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Time Initial IC Activity Recorded

Now do you think STAN politically speaking that this should be done after or before the junket.

LEVISION: I say before because after it would probably be some lose. So if it is announced before it will be good all around.

WACHTEL: O.K. I will talk to you STANLEY.

KING: I don't think we need a press conference.

LVEISON: No the committee would send out the release.

WACHTEL: Now the answers or the questions and answers being published in the pamphlet.

KING: That is good.

WACHTEL: Now that is not an answer by you MARTIN.

KING: Ah. Now.

WACHTEL: We will work out an answer and the real trick is to get COMMENGER to write it and I will call you tonight STANLEY and work on it. Now if we can get the thing to the Off set by Wednesday morning we can get it out by Friday evening and LUCY has rounded up 50 kids to sell it for 10 cents a piece. It will look like the Nation with a self cover and it will be a title like ""D"" KING SPEAKS ON THEW WAR IN VIETNAM> On the back will be a box for SCLS.

KING: How much will it cost to print.

WACHTEL: He did not tell me but your don't have to worry MARTIN because we will send him the colleges, etc. The real question is can or should it include your speech for Saturday. Now a problem is that if the audience gets Martin's speech Saturday then STOKLEY and the others will be answering him.

LEVISON: I think it is better for MARTIN to speak before Stokley.

KING: I don't want to be in a position of answering STOKLEY or be in a position of being more militant or as militant as STOKLEY and the people are fresher.

LEVISON: Now back to the point of including the speech. I have a bigger point. Now there will be repretition [sic] of the speeches. Now Martin is going to California Tuesday night and he should have the speech by then. So we don't have till the end of the week.

KING: Will we still put it in the NY Times?


WACHTEL: Now we can put one or two pages out on why the pamphlet is being published.

LEVISION: It can be a preface.

KING: What about another person writing an introduction. I was thinking of [intelligible word"" RHEINGHO NEIBOR (PH).

LEVISION: MARTIN SHOULD NOT BE suggesting him when you (WACHTEL talk to BENNETT.

Sunday, 4/9/67


LEVISON: Make the introduction about 1˝ pages. Hey, discuss getting NEIBOR (?) to say certain things.

WACHTEL: I will get him but I can't make him say certain things.

LEVISON: Well, MARTIN, I read the reprint of the Los Angeles Spe and I think it was in the main the best.

WACHTEL: If the Parables are omitted.


WACHTEL: [I] think that MARTIN has to deal with what the TIMES and POST raised yesterday.

KING: I can't just be concerned for the injustice to Negros and forget about all mankind.

LEVISON: Well, here are a couple of sentences I wrote which touch on this point.

WACHTEL: Are you home MARTIN?

KING: No, I'm in Chicago now.

LEVISON: (Returns to phone) He is one of my thoughts. I'm not urging a mechanical merger of the Civil Rights and Peace movements. I say there are moral roots common to both.

WACHTEL: Well, I think it is important that MARTIN take a stand that he has not left civil rights but as such s ys (?) this and so.

KING: Shouldn't there be some footnotes on some of my statements that the Washington Post accuse me of being a liar on some of the statements that I have made?

LEVISON: I agree with MARTIN that they should go in but as long as MARTIN has the sources.

WACHTEL: Well, can you have it ready.

KING: Well, this reference to Millions of casualties, I got from RAMPARTS magazine on the Vietnamese children.

WACHTEL: Well, it wouldn't impress me.

LEVISON: I don't agree. It isn't a bad publication.

KING: Well, also the reference that I made that 25% of the Viet Kong are communist I got from BERNARD FALL.

WACHTEL: Well it may be from a different time.

KING: That may be true but it has been said.

LEVISON: Yes, I say you are being too much legalistic, Harry.

WACHTEL: Okay, have Dora call in the footnotes to my secretary and Stan and I will be getting together tomorrow and we can document this stuff.

Day: Sunday
Date: 4/9/67 b2 b70
Employee's Name: (redacted) b7c

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Time Initial IC Activity Recorded

[Word redacted]

WATCHEL: Now todays times has a great thing on the Negro in the Service and you should look at that. In the in the New[s] of the Week Section and Cor has [intelligible word] figures in the paper. Now will you be in Atlanta tomorrow night MARTIN?

KING: Yes.

LEVISON: Now, it seems to be the heart of the Attack of the Post and the TIMES that you are not helping the Peace movement and hurting the Civil Rights Movement and that you a re asserting that Civil Rights Gaines [sic] can't be won while the War is won, and I know you have said things in passing that sound just like that last thought that you can't acomplish [sic] anything. I think you to [check] clarify you stand that you don't assert that no progress can be made in Civil Rights while the War is on and the proff [sic] is that you are carrying on [intelligible word] Your Civil Rights activities while these [intelligible word] statements are being made by others. And it is a fact that the Reaction and the [intelligible word] others are furnished by the war with the best excuse for scutteling the whole Civil Rights Program.

KING: That's right.

Second MARTIN: Since the question has been raised from seve[ral] sections that BEVELS formulation that this is a RACIST War, don't you think that this should deal with this directly that you don't not hold with that.

KING: I don't want to be on that stage debating with BEVIL.

LEVISON: Well that is why I wanted you to say something because you see it s very funny that you want to take the responsibility of debating with BEVIL but he doesn't [intelligible word] take the responsibility of debating with you. He knows that you don't believe this. He know this is not your analysis.

KING: Well it seem [sic] that that all the other things I say would deal with this without coming out and making it appear that we are at loggerheads at that mark.

WATCHEL: Well if you speak early you as an early speaker can say you do not call this a Rascist war.

KING: Well I would not have to say too much. I think the Future wars will be against Non White People and you got to face the fact either Latin Americans or Asia. Or Asia. [sic] As MERDALLIPH said in Madison Square Garden that this is a Colored War which increases the Tension.

Sunday, 4-9-67

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Time Initial IC Activity Recorded

LEVISON: Well I suggest that at this point the BEVIL'S answer on this is that all the victims of colonialism are Colored that he is talking about old traditional imperialism. Today is the nice White Anglo Saxon Canadian who are objection to our domination of their economy and society. So it is not true as it was. I'm talking where the penetration of the imperialism is occurring and Racism is a component but not a sole cause, the cause is [intelligible word] economic.

KING: Now what about CASUS CLAY. Is there still kind of hated by a lot of whites.

LEVISION: Yes I would say so.

WATCHEL: I would say if he ends up going to jail it isn't a clear cut issue he is going as one denied the right of a Minister and not as thinking the war is wrong.

KING: I was asking for is [sic] my identification with him somebodys asked him to come to the march. He doesn't want to march, he doesn't want to march. But wanted to come and by the time he gets there I would be arriving and he would come up to the stage and greet me or something.

LEVISON: I wouldn't do it Martin, it puts the freaks on your side.

WATCHEL: He doesn't represent anything that would be giving you more at the ralley [sic].

LEVISON: See BROWN is a different story even if he is a black Nationalist the kids admire him but Clay is …

WATCHEL: I wouldn't mind it at a different place.

LEVISON: I wouldn't encourage it [intelligible word].

KING: Now about my speech. How are we going to deal with my getting it before Tuesday I leave for California at 4 something.

WATCHEL: We will telephonetically dictate it.

LEVISION: Tuesday around 12 or 1 o'clock it has got to be ready. The basic work cannot be done tomorrow night. It has to be done before that. O.K. Martin. You will be around if questions come up tomorrow.

KING: I will be in the office all day tomorrow. Nd[redacted word]

Sunday, 4/8/67

[word redacted] to LEVISON asking if he is going in. He says probably not as he has work for Dr. King to do. [word redacted] says she does not feel too well but will go in a little while.

STAN LEVISON TO PL 9-2700 TO HARRY WACHTAL - secretary says he is in conference - LEVISON sould like to speak to him as he has a question. Secretary will take a message in to him then apparently they get disconnected.

March 28, 1968 9:15 PM - A conversation between Levison in New York and King in Memphis following the disastrous protest march in support of striking sanitation workers that occurred the day before. King frets about calling off the upcoming Poor People's Campaign march in Washington, DC. Mentioned in the conversation are Ralph Abernathy, vice president of the SCLC, and James Lawson, the local civil rights leader who had invited King to Memphis.

8:10 pm IC S[sentence redacted]


YOUNG tells LEVISION that MARTIN LUTHER KING can be reached at 901-, 525-0121, Ext. 801, and suggests that LEVISION call him because KING is very depressed about the incident in Memphis, and was a Friday night meeting

SA[sentence redacted] R2521-2

9:10 p.m OG

LEVISON reaches KING at the above number.

KING tells LEVISON that a small group of guys called "The invaders" took over the microphone before KING even arrived on the scene. The KING forces got the microphone back but a small group started breaking store windows and this started the riot. KING became so depressed as a result of the developments in Memphis that he has considered calling off the Washington March.

LEVISION told KING that his depression was undoubtedly made worse by the fact the he was physically exhausted as a result of his strenuous program recently. He told KING that he should not be on the defensive about Memphis but on the contrary should take the position that majority of people in the Memphis march did not join in the rioting, and that this proves the effectiveness of his leadership and policy of non-violence. He state that KING should take the position that his presence prevented extensive rioting such as took place in other cities.

LEVISION emphasizes that the Washington march will differ from the Memphis march in that KING will have organized the Washington march and KING's forces can stress the importance of non-violence.

LEVISION suggest that Saturday morning would be a better time to meet in Atlanta to discuss the Memphis incident rather than meeting Friday night because it will give KING a chance to get some rest. KING agrees to this.

KING also agreed in every respect with LEVISON's evaluation of the Memphis incident. (CONT'd)

Thursday, 3/28/68

SA [words redacted]

Before speaking to KING, LEVISON spoke to RALPH ABERNATHY who answered the phone.

ABERNATHY stated that KING was supposed to be in Washington tomorrow but had cancelled that and was supposed to be in Virginia Saturday but can probably cancel that.

ABERNATHY stated that the KING forces were unaware that there was such a strong group of black power advocates committed to violence, and that it was a mistake for the KING forces not to have a staff in Memphis to train the people in non violence. He stated that it was also a mistake on the part of the KING forces not to be more aware of the local situation.

LEVISON pointed out that JIM LAWSON was in Memphis and should have communicated the facts to KING.

ABERNATHY said that JIM LAWSON is a weak leader although he was well-trained in non violence.

LEVISON will check with DORA MAC DONALD tomorrow as to details of the meeting in Atlanta Saturday.

SA [words redacted]
10.10 pm IC


STANLEY brought HARRY up to date on Memphis and gave to HARRY KING's phone number so that he can call KING tonight.

March 29, 1968 3:30 PM - After a day of press conferences and damage control, Levison calls King in Memphis to assess the situation. King is dejected about the blow to his reputation and the non-violent movement caused by the melee in Memphis. King considers going on a fast to discipline his followers, much as his idol Gandhi did in India. Mentioned in the conversation are entertainer Harry Belafonte, a King supporter, civil rights leaders Roy Wilkins and Bayard Rustin, who criticized King's stance on the war, and New York Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, who a week earlier had claimed that the era of King's non-violent activism was over.


SL: It seems to me that not only are you going to find it almost impossible to get 12 people on a conference call, but even if you got them all together, it's not of much value. Because you know how hard it is on these conference calls when we have 4 or 5 to have a thoughtful conversation. With 12 it won't amount to more than each one expressing himself once.

MK: One reason I wanted to get them was before my press conference, it isn't of too much value now anyway. Because there were some things I had thought about that I felt the need of doing, and I was going to announce it in the conference, but that conference is over and I couldn't announce it anyway. So I don't see much value in the conference call, and we are going have a meeting tomorrow morning. So I'll just call it off altogether. The only thing is there are one or two Memphis men I wanted in on it, maybe I could get them to come to Atlanta.

SL: Yeah, that would be better, because you really won't accomplish anything with 12 people on a conference call. It would be better to place 2 calls. What was it you wanted to raise that you thought you'd discuss at the press conference.

MK: I think that we are, I know I appreciated your words last night, I think that we have to face the fact that from a public relations point of view and every other way we are in serious trouble. I think as far as the Washington campaign is concerned it is in trouble. It is going to be much harder to recruit people now, because most people we are recruiting are not violent people. And if they feel they are going to be in a campaign that is going to be taken over by violent elements you know they will hold back, and I think we will have some holding back just out of fear and the emphasis is going to be that now and you'll begin to see it in the newspapers. This is not a failure for SCLC, we have enough of a program to affirm its own position, but it is a personal setback for me. Let's face it. There are those who are vindica

SA[word redacted]
3:30 PM OG

LEVISON to KING continued.

MK: now. You know LUTERS(ph) raised that question at HARRY BELAFONTE'S(ph) the other night.

SL: No, MARTIN, I couldn't disagree more completely with you.

MK: All I'm saying is that ROY WILKINS(ph), the BAYARD RUSTIN(ph) and that stripe and there are many of them and the negroes that are influenced by what they read newspapers, ADAM CLAYTON POWELL(ph) for another reason, you know their point is, I'm right, MARTIN LUTHER KING is dead, he's finished, his non-violence is nothing, no one is listening to it. Let's fa ce it, we do have a great public relations setback where my image and my leadership are concerned.

SL: That is only if you accept their definition and this, I think, is a profound error you are making.

MK: But I'm saying I don't accept it myself, what I'm saying is that many people will accept it.

SL: And I say the people will accept it for a few days, but if events prove otherwise, they will not accept it.

MK: That's the point, if events prove otherwise. And events are just going to prove otherwise unless we think very soberly through this period, and I've got to, somehow, reaffirm what the press will refuse to affirm. They aren't going to deal with it that way, I mean everybody knows, we all know it was just a few people, and frankly, it was a failure of the leadership here. I talked to the fellow who organized the violence business this morning in my room. They came to me, I didn't even call for them. They came up here, they love me. They were fighting the leadership of Memphis. They were fighting JIM LAWSON(ph) and the men who ignored them, who neglected them; who would not hear them wouldn't give them any attention, ordered their telephone cut off, wouldn't even give them $20.00. All of these things. You know I had no knowledge of all this. I know the fellows, and they really do, love me. They were too sick to see what they were doing yesterday was hurting me much more than it could hurt the local preachers. But it is out now. What do we do. I have come to the conclusion that I was so upset about this Fri. 3/29/68 "

Activity recorded

[Heading redacted]

KING: (cont'd)

thing and so shocked, that I was just going to announce that I was going on a fst, and through thi fast to appea to the leadership of Memphis as well as thoe who partici- pated in the violence to come to me in a united front and lets take up the cudgel and move on in this movement. I think that that kind of powerful spiritual move would be the kind of thing that wouldpull all the forces, and make all the students come to me. I think it will make my staf work harder everywhere along the way. It will force them into a position to come in here and get with these student and say that we can't allow this to happen. It would be a way of unifying the movement, and transforming a minus into a plus. I can have press conferences and talk about it until I have another march in Memphis that is non violen I was really just down town, and I think our Washington campaign is doomed.

LEVISON: MARTIN, one thing that bothers me terribly is that you are saying that you must have 100% adherence to non violence even by those who are not your followers. How can you ever get that?

KING: We can't get it but the fact is that this was a demonstraction, STAN. If a riot had broken out on the South Side,--let's face it this was a riot that broke out right in the ranks of our march. These fellows would be in line and they would jump out, do something, and come back to hid within the group.

LEVISON: MARTIN, I'm not just talking about this march. I'm talking in general about what seems to me the box or the trap that you are placing non-violence in. The other side can always find a few provovateurs to start violence no matter what you do. There is a long history of this in the labor movement. Every time, 30 or 40 years ago, a strike started, they--the employers--got some guys to star some violence, and that broke a thousand strikes.

KING: It's totally different in that situation STAN.

[End of page]

[Footer] Day - FRI, Date 3/29/68 Employee's Name [Name redacted] Date Stamp

[sentence redacted]

KING: (CONT'd) You did not have a labor leader generally who rose up as a symbol of non-violence. It didn't matter about violence. It mattered tactically but not philosophically and in terms of the leadership of the man. He had not become the symbol of rallying people around a philosophy and method of non violence. What we are faced with now is that the press is not going to say what you are talking about. You are right that they are not going to deal with it, and everything will come out weakening the symbol. It will put many Negroes in doubts. It will put many Negroes in the position of saying, “Well, that's true MARTIN LUTHER KING is at the end of his rope.” So I've got to do something that becomes a kind of powerful act, and not playing with it, I mean taking it seriously, and make it a powerful act of unifying forces and refuting the claims that would be made by the press.

LEVISON: If it would have that result, I would agree with it. I'm just very bothered by the idea that you would be accepting the logic of the press which is that if you can't control 100% but only 99%, you are a failure. This kind of arithmetic makes sense no where else but they have imposed this on you.

KING: That's what I am saying, and you can't keep them from imposing it.

LEVISON: This is what I am not so sure about.

KING: Well, you watch your newspapers. What “The New York Times” editorials.

LEVISON: Yes, I'm willing to watch, particularly after the Memphis—

KING: I think it will be the most negative thing about MARTIN LUTHER KING that you have ever seen.

LEVISON: For a time, yes.

KING: There will not be even one sympathetic – even with friends, it won't be there. .

Day FRI Date 3/29/68

SA [word redacted]

LEVISON: I think there will be but it will take a couple of weeks. The first reaction will be exactly what you are describing but I don't think that it is absolutely inevitable that the truth is going to get buried.

KING: It will stay buried, STAN, unless I do something now.

LEVISON: I agree with that but what I am saying is that what you do should not feed their logic that there cannot be 1% that are violent without destroying your position. We have to find a way in which we don't accept this. Otherwise you'll never be able to do anything unless you always spiritually reach the level where you absolutely hypnotize every single Negro alive. That's too much to ask.

KING: I know that. I agree with that. But how can I say that we can control our demonstrations in Washington, and at the same time conclude that we are going to have 1% violence.

LEVISON: What you can say is that you can control your followers. You are not undertaking to control everybody else. MARTIN, I think what we are really getting into here is what we are going to have to discuss in depth tomorrow. I just can't see you getting into a position where you are undertaking to eradicate all violence because you are destined to fail. I believe there is a way that you can take a position that your followers are non violent and that your followers will do what they must do. It is not up to you to control the others. When we can get into it at length I'd like to insist upon my analogy with the labor movement because it had to come through a whole perish in which strikes were made analogous with violence, and finally they did it when there were bombings, dynamiting, and everything else that accompanied strikes. They did it by persisting and carrying on the strikes, and saying that we are not responsible for the dynamiting. I'm inclined to feel that this is the road, no matter how difficult it is because the press is so opposed to you, but I think that just persistently doing it may be a better answer (CONT'D

SA [words redacted]

LEVISON: (CONT'D) than to follow the line that you are talking about because the very logic of the position that you are talking about is that it appeals to every Negro. Otherwise where is the spiritual strength?

KING: I have a lot of answers to that but I just can't get into it now because we have a 3:20 flight and have to rush to the airport. We set the meeting for 10:00 in the morning. So you can be there in time. It will be in my church.--in my church office.

LEVISON: I'll be there on time.

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