Our nation’s ongoing struggle for social justice evokes memories of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and ‘60s, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. fought to make the dream that all people are created equal a reality.
During the early 1960s, the minster and civil rights icon wrote a personal and powerful letter to singer Sammy Davis Jr., a member of the Rat Pack, after Davis organized an event at Carnegie Hall to advocate for the Freedom Movement.
The letter is now on the auction block at Goldin Auctions, according to a news release.
“The endless problems generated by our great FREEDOM MOVEMENT can only be compared to a river that never stops flowing,” the typed letter reads. “Fortunately, its progress too is like a river. Slowly — but surely and relentlessly — the Movement keeps pressing insistently forward step by step. One such step, in my opinion, was the historic affair at Carnegie Hall on February 27, which you personally initiated and organized, then crowned with your astonishing artistry.”
Davis Jr. was one of the most versatile members of the Rat Pack — a group that also included Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.
“Not very long ago, it was customary for Negro artists to hold themselves aloof from the struggle for equality, in the belief that the example of their personal success was in itself a contribution in that it helped to disprove the myth of Negro inferiority—which indeed it did,” the letter continued.
“Who can measure the impact, the inspirational effect, upon the millions of Negroes who have learned through thousands of grapevines that one of their idols, Sammy Davis Jr., was responsible for rallying some of the greatest stars of Hollywood to come forward and publicly support the great cause of Negro freedom? On campuses and in communities throughout the south they are still talking about it and will continue to. I assure you, for many a long month to come.”
The letter, which includes a hand-written note at the end, expected to bring $50,000 ore more, according to the release.
“This document is one of the most personal Martin Luther King artifacts to come to public auction,” says Auction house owner, Ken Goldin, in the release.
The bidding for the letter has already eclipsed $10,000 and ends on Aug. 22.