Martin Luther King Jr. under arrest, Oct. 19, 1960.
How Martin Luther King Jr.’s Imprisonment Changed American Politics Forever
Jan. 12, 2021
MLK’s first imprisonment
The story begins
in mid-October 1960
with Martin Luther King Jr.’s
incarceration (his first)
in a Georgia jail cell
and ends three weeks later
with John F. Kennedy’s
over Richard M. Nixon
in the most competitive
of the 20th centurY.
Kennedy’s razor-thin triumph
depended on several factors
ranging from his youthful charm
to Mayor Richard J. Daley’s ability
to pad the Democratic vote
But, as the Kendricks
one crucial factor
in Kennedy’s electoral success
was the late surge of Black voters
into the Democratic column.
In all likelihood, this surge
represented the difference
between victory and defeat
in at least five swing states,
Michigan and New Jersey,
comfortable margin (303 to 219)
in the Electoral College.
This last-minute shift
by two impulsive phone calls:
one from John Kennedy
to Coretta Scott King,
expressing his concern
for her jailed husband’s safety;
the second from
younger brother Robert
to Oscar Mitchell,
the Georgia judge
overseeing King’s incarceration.
Arrested on two minor charges
— participating in a student-led sit-in
at Rich’s department store in Atlanta
and driving with an Alabama license
after changing his residency
to Georgia — King was thought
to be in grave danger
after a manacled, late-night transfer
from an Atlanta jail
to a remote rural facility
in Klan-infested DeKalb County,
and soon thereafter to the state’s
notorious maximum-security prison
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New York Times > Disunion: The Civil War
Disunion revisits and reconsiders
America’s most perilous period
— using contemporary accounts,
and historical assessments to follow
the Civil War as it unfolded.
New York Times > Civil war timeline
This timeline tracks the posts
by contributors to the Disunion series.
Contemporary accounts, diaries, images
and historical assessments
follow the Civil War as it unfolded.
Slavery and the Making of America > Timeline
Library of Congress
The African American Odyssey:
A Quest for Full Citizenship
Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute
Major King Events Chronology: 1929-1968
The Speeches of Martin Luther King Jr.
Remembering Key Addresses, Sermons by the Civil Rights Leader
Speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.