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April 5, 1968

League of Women Voters of the U.S.
1200- 17th Street N.W.
Washington, 0.C. 20036

Dear Member:

The national Board was meeting in a special session last night when we heard the news that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had been killed in Memphis Tennessee. We spent considerable time discussing the League's response to this national tragedy and agreed to issue the enclosed statement.

Like many of you, after hearing the dreadful news I found it hard to sleep. I kept asking myself what we could have done which might have helped avert this tragedy, And I thought of a man I met last week in Chicago. I had gone there for a press briefing session about our national Convention. One of the reporters present was a pleasant, friendly man representing Ebony Magazine. We talked about many things --the problems of the cities, employment, schools, housing, and what we could do about this myriad of problems.

The reporter from Ebony listened for a while and then spoke up. He said, "You know I belong to an integrated church here in Chicago and at the time of Selma, members of our church, black and white, went together to Alabama and marched. It was wonderful, and I think the whites among us had a feeling of real accomplishment as well as a feeling of "standing up and being counted." But you know it's a funny thing, back here in Chicago today, some of these very same people are not marching anymore and they are not standing up and being counted very often either," He laughed, and some of the rest of us did too, but it wasn't really a laughing matter and we all knew it.

I, for one, took a good look at myself and asked "Do I speak up when I hear a homeowner who vows to sell if a Negro moves into his neighborhood? Do I protest the bigoted remark? Do I do all I can to persuade my middle class friends to change some of their attitudes -- even at the risk of offending them? Am I really doing everything I can personally to see that legislative goals are achieved? Do I practice everything I preach?

The answer is, of course, No.

But this morning I vowed that henceforth I shall do better. I have issued the enclosed statement to the press here in Washington.

I have called my Congressman and my two Senators and told them how I stand personally on several issues. I have made it very clear that in this case I am not speaking in the name of the League of Women Voters as a whole but for me, Julia Stuart. I am in Washington, D.C., so this was not difficult to do, but I hadn't done it earlier, Why?

I believe in organized action, especially in the type of action taken by the League of Women Voters of the United States. But individual action and individual expression is necessary too.

Soon I shall finish my term as President of the League of Women Voters of the United States. On my return to Spokane I intend to speak in my own community and take what action I can whenever, wherever, and under whatever circumstances present themselves. I hope that you will too,

Sincerely

Mrs. Robert J. Stuart
President

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