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Federal Bureau of Investigation. "Summary of Conversation with Stanley D. Levison." April 12, 1967.

Date Issued: April 12, 1967
Date Declassified: [1983?]
Length: 6 pages
NOT Sanitized


Time Initial IC OG Activity Recorded
8:20 P.M.
R-8171-35 & B-7912-28

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., long distance from Los Angeles, to STANLEY LEVISON. LEVISON tells KING that he thinks confer- ence calls can have too many people on them for a discussion where the points one wants discussed get discussed. He says several of the things K raised got lost. K agrees. L sugg- ests that maybe it would be better for K to call 2 or 3 people and then another 2 or 3. He says he thinks K will get more out of it. K says he thinks L is right about it. K explains that he called "CLEVELAND" because he says he was interested mainly in "CLEVE" mobilizing people. L says he can see why K pulled each one. K says it was for a specific reason (for each) but as L says it can be too many people and that one just never gets to the point.

L then tells K that he thinks that one of the things that could be done before Saturday is spots on the radio. He say he thinks this would be helpful. L says he will call CLEVE tomorrow and see if "we" can work that out. L says he think that if "we" had spots every half hour on Friday it has to make an impact and that the cost is relatively small. L say he can get that covered easily. But L says he also agrees that it should not be placed as "Follow Martin Luther King and show you're behind him" because L says that, as he said from the beginning, he did not think that Negroes in large masses were going to want to identify with "this kind of mobilization". But L says that to get those that will one reaches them by a mass media like radio. K agrees and adds that he thinks that's very important; to get spot announce- ments and have them worded properly so that it doesn't get out to the press that this is a test of K's strength. L agrees and says he thinks it should just be "Come and hear Martin Luther King and Benjamin Spock".

L then tells K that he thinks "we" really need a discussion that goes a lot deeper than the kind of discussion "we" were having now. L says there are very, very important cross- currents that are working "here" and that he thinks the kind of group K had together on "this call" tend to agree with each other too much. As an example L points out that "HARRY says the people are behind K and CLEVE says the people are behind K while K says he wants to examine why so and so didn't want to sign and why so and so didn't speak out and no one hears it. L says he thinks "we" do have to examine those things. K agrees.

L then says he wants to read K parts of "this article by WECHSLER that are very interesting but that he also wants to say that he thinks a careful look has to be given to "that draft of the speech" because in light of "these developments he thinks K has to point some of his speech to dealing with them; and that the speech was drafted with absolutely no sense of this present situation. K agrees. He tells L that one of the things he wanted to suggest is that first it's too long. L agrees that it's much too long. K then says he has cut some of it already; that he cut the part dealing with the U. N.; that he cut the part on defense because he felt that that would be understood anyway; and that then there was another part he cut. But K says it is still long. L says he thinks what is still dispensible is the whole sect- ion that deals with "the history". He says that will cut out a good many pages. K agrees as he says that's the longest section and he says that if he can cut that he thinks that would pull "us" through and that he maybe could write a para- graph that would say the same thing without going through all of the history. L agrees. K says the problem is that a lot of people don't know this but that he doesn't think this is the kind of speech "you can - Most of those people there will know it" but that when he was cutting he guesses he was thinking of the New York Times. L interjects that they are not going to print it anyway. K says they certainly aren't going to do "the ad" now.

K then says he thinks that's another part he can cut and he asks L to write up a paragraph or two on some of the things that WECHSLER is suggesting. L says he will do that. K say: he could then bring that in and not do the same outline that he did in "the Riverside speech of the 5 points". L says he thinks that's good. K says he could even say that even though there are many who feel that the U. S. should unilaterally withdraw from Viet Nam and that it would not damage its pres- tige but heighten as with France in Algeria, we have reached a point where realism must (cause people?) to see that it will not happen this way and that "our concern must be a con- cern to bring an end to this war". K says that he can then move into "this" by saying there are some things that can be done (by U.S. alone). K says he thinks he can still play on the part where the U. S. has the power to take initiative L interrupts to agree and say that that was a very good point.

He tells K that he thinks that would be fine. However, L adds that he hopes K will leave "that beginning about the historical dimensions of the dissent of the American people" K says that's important and L says he thinks it's very im- portant and that it's generally left out. K agrees. L says that if one just takes the polls there are some 15,000,000 adults who oppose the war. They agree that 15,000,000 are a lot of people. K then comments that L had said 10,000,000 L tells K that he said over 10,000,000; that he was being conservative. K then says he thinks it's stated very well; that L says over 10,000,000 are explicitly opposed and that then there are (millions?) in kind of middle category who don't feel like they can support it and others who support it but do so half-heartedly. K says that's really what it is and that the number is growing every day. K says he know the agony the ones who oppose it go through. He says he knows FULBRIGHT has gone through "this" because "WALTER call ed yesterday and said he wanted to figure out some way to support my position" and wanted a copy of K's speech. K says "we mailed it to him last night". K says he knows the only reason "he" is feeling this way is because of what "he" has gone through; that "you take a stand against it and you get all of these people-... coming out against you". K says it is a frustrating and very lonesome road that "you" have to go. L agrees. L then says that this was the reason why he felt so strongly at the beginning that if K united with "these fellows", who felt as isolated as K did that the unity and solidarity of those who all have power and speak out would make much more difference than when K is identified with "this fringe element". K agrees and tells L that he doesn't think it's too late for him to do that. L agrees. K says he thinks what he has to do now is figure out the strategy to pull away from "this" after the 15th. L indicates whole- hearted agreement and says that's what he meant. K indicates that he would then move more towards "these groups", adding that maybe the attention was necessary to really establish the fact that he is firmly opposed to the war. K says that maybe the virtue of this will be that many people will say "this man really has courage" because K says it does take a lot of courage to do what he has done in the face of founda- tion grants and keeping an organization alive and criticisms. L says that's right. K says that it takes people a little time sometimes and that they are saying things at the dinner tables but that many people probably admire his cour- age in this thing that haven't even said it. L indicates agreement. L reminds K that when K first came out he had Senator JAVITS saying that he wished he had K's courage be- cause that's what he believed and L points out how long it took J to speak out at all and that he has done it very hes- itantly.

L then says he just thinks that K has got to get into a pos- ition where an attack on K becomes an attack on a lot of pow- erful people and not on an attack on easy marks. He says he thinks one of the reasons "they" have seized the initiative so fast is that "this group" K is now associated with is so easy to attack and that it's a perfect opportunity for "them" to hit K. But L adds that he thinks "they" have gone beyond a position that was even sensible for "them" to take.

L then reads K parts of what WECHSLER had to say because he says he thinks it's an excellent column (on KING). He then says he would almost like to run it as an ad because it so well defines K's position. K agrees. L then goes on with WECHSLER's column about K and the peace march.

L then says he also thinks that something should be said very directly in the speech about the fact that K is not bidding for leadership of the peace movement and that he has heavy tasks in civil rights work on which he has been working and will be resuming with renewed energy. L says this would un- dermine the talk that's going around that K is no doing any- thing on civil rights. But L adds that this doesn't meet the whole question because he says BUNCHE's argument, which he says disturbs him more than "the N.A.A." does, is that K has no right to speak on peace because K will lose friends for the civil rights movement. L says this is sort of a fantastic position for BUNCHE to take because it's really the old argu- ment that a Negro leader shouldn't say anything that might offend White folks. L says that merely because people don't agree with K's position on peace is hardly justification for them to withdraw (from) a fight for justice and civil rights. K says that's right and that if they do that they aren't co- mitted to it anyway. L says that's right. L then points out that the N.A.A. didn't hesitate to deal with and take a stand on Soviet anti-Semitism, which he says is hardly related to civil rights. K says that's a good point. L then says that it's only when they think the issue might be unpopular that they say "you" have no right to speak. K agrees.

K then says he is going to call BUNCHE but that he was really shocked by "that" because he really thought that BUNCHE was so opposed to the U. S. policy in Viet Nam that he would welcome K's taking a stand against it. L asks if BUN- CHE may have been annoyed by the statement that the U. N. has been harmed. K says maybe; that he doesn't know. L then says he doesn't see why B should because it's pretty self-evident. L then says he has a feeling that in the main it must be that great pressure was brought on B and that he felt that he has to yield to it. L says he doesn't think B is "a hatchet man" such as he thinks "ROY" (WILKINS) is. L says ROY would have liked to have dealt with K 10 years ago but that K handled it very skillfully then. L goes into how K avoided saying then that he was building an organiza- tion to compete with the N.A.A.C.P., but to supplement it. L says that this time he feels that the weakness in what was done was that not enough of the support was organized before so that when the attacks came K is in "this position where people haven't thought it through and don't know what stand they want to take- and you have to wait for them to think it out". But L says that he is confident that, if after Satur- day "we" start on a campaign to get signers for a very clear statement, he thinks "we" can could get even thousands of them and that printed in the Times, especially where he thinks it should be 75% Negro and 25% White, he thinks this would be a devastating answer; and L says he thinks K can get it. K says he thinks so. He says it has to be a very organized thing; that as "they" are organizing against "us" he thinks "we" have to just be as vigilant, vigorous and zealous as "they" are. L agrees. K then says he really feels that "we" could get it. He tells L that he hasn't become pessimistic, explaining that one goes through these moments when one feels that the blows are too heavy for that particular moment; but that one just goes on back and brace himself for them even though they are coming; and K says he knows that many more are coming. L says that's right.

K then tells L that in every movement "we" have started "we" have had the opposition of the middle class Negroes and the power structure in the White community. K and L go back into details of the past on this.

K says he knows when ROY and "WHITNEY" (YOUNG) and even BUN- CHE will back up - when they think K has support. K says that if the march Saturday has 10,000 people the attacks will con- tinue; if it has 100,000 they will begin to listen. K says he just knows that is a fact of life; that people measure. L indicates agreement. K then says he doesn't think "we" are going to have half as many Negroes as Whites in the Sat- urday turnout but that if they get 10% or 15% that will be more than ever before. L indicates agreement. L then says his guess is that it can't possibly be as small as 10,000; that it will be a big march, but that he must bear in mind that especially in New York the figure will be reported as 1/3 of those who are actually there. L says he is not sure that it will be 100,- 000; that his guess is that maybe it will be 75,000 and that he is not optimistic enough to think it will be 15% Negro; that if it approaches 10% it will be very good. L says that that will be a lot of people anyway and there will be talk about it.

K says that he knows that when she talks about this war among young people, Negro and White, he is applauded; that the students go wild even when STOKELY CARMICHAEL tells them not to support the war and the draft.

K then says he will work on the speech tonight and L agrees to work on the section that has to do with unilateral with- drawal. K says he thinks he ought to ease into the question so that he doesn't offend those who advocate unilateral withdrawal. He says he can always use the analogy of France in Algeria. L says he will work around with it and that K may then be able to see a way to work it in.

L then asks where K is going to be Friday. K says he will be in Palo Alto but indicates he doesn't know exactly where he will be staying there. He says he will get in touch with L tomorrow and let him know exactly where he will be. K says he would like to get the material tomorrow because he wants "ANDY" to get it run off in Chicago. L tells K to call him and that he can read his part to K, who can then get it to ANDY. It is agreed that K shall call L at home during the day. Operator calls back and tells LEVISON that the caller is staying at "the Travel Lodge" in Los Angeles and that she neglected to get his name and room number. LEVISON says it was MARTIN LUTHER KING but that he doesn't know his room number.

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