February 2015 | Nate Pedersen

Condolence Letter from President Johnson to Coretta Scott King Heads to Auction

Quinn's Auction Galleries is offering a signed condolence letter from President Lyndon B. Johnson to Coretta Scott King after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.  The letter - an enormously important document in the history of the Civil Rights movement - is dated April 5, 1968, the day after Martin Luther King was shot in Memphis:

Dear Mrs. King:  

My thoughts have been with you and your children throughout this long and anguished day. 

Tonight, Mrs. Johnson and I pray again that God gives you the solace of His strength. 

Since early morning, I have devoted all my hours and energy to honoring your good husband in the manner he would most approve. I have sought --by word, deed, and official act - to unite this sorrowing and troubled nation against further and wider violence. 

I have met in that cause - in your husband's name and faith - with leaders of government, Negro and white communities, our cities, churches and courts. We found more than grief to share. I wanted you to know tonight of the determination that binds us: We will overcome this calamity and continue the work of justice and love that is Martin Luther King's legacy and trust to us. 

I am also determined that the assassin will be found and punished. The full powers of local and Federal authority are marshaled now to assure it. 

I am enclosing copies of my statements today so that you may know fully the concerns and intentions that guide me. I believe, with all my heart, that the American majority will also be guided by them, in goodwill and great hope. All of us ask God to comfort you now and restore your compassionate influence to us. 

Lyndon B. Johnson.

The letter arrived at Quinn's from the collection of Stoney and Shirley Cooks.  The letter was gifted to Shirley Cooks from Harry Belafonte, the songwriter and social activist.

Bidding starts at $60,000 with a $120,000 - $180,000 estimate. Online bidding is currently open.  The auction, which also contains other items related to Martin Luther King Jr and the Civil Rights movement, will be held on March 5th.