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Belafonte Asks JFK and RFK for Help in Birmingham

Apr. 13, 1963 - President Kennedy and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy were urged in telegrams today to act immediately “to end the reign of terror in Birmingham,” and ensure the safety of the Negro community and its leaders. Harry Belafonte, the actor and singer, who is a member of the council of advisers to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and an associate of Dr. Martin Luther King, made the messages public. They protested the arrest in Birmingham of Dr. King and other Negro citizens yesterday. “Brutal use of police dogs,” the message to the Attorney General said, “against Negro citizens peacefully protesting segregated public facilities in Birmingham shocks the conscience of America and reflects an ugly stain upon the U.S throughout the world.” The message to the President said: “In these times, there is great need of moral leadership to strengthen those like Dr. King who are leading the fight for all men and to make clear the knowledge that this land will not permit the continuing denial of freedom to any of its citizens or the abuse of those who are lawfully seeking such freedom.” Other signers included Marlon Brando, the actor; the Rev. Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick, pastor emeritus of Riverside Church; and Jacob S. Potofsky, president of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America.


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