In April 1958, Kelly Alexander, then President of the North Carolina State Conference of NAACP Branches, invited Dr. Martin Luther King to address the citizens of Charlotte. In his initial letter to King, Alexander stated “there is still too much apathy and still much work to be done. We know your visit here will be of a great advantage." Over the next few months the two activists made arrangements for King to visit Charlotte in September of that year.
On September 23, 1958, Dr. Martin Luther King addressed an audience assembled at the Charlotte Park Center. A later visit planned for 1968 was postponed due to King’s involvement in the Memphis garbage workers’ strike of that year. On April 2, 1968, a telegram was sent to Dr. Reginald Hawkins deferring King’s visit to the city.
Materials from and related to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. can be found in several collections held by J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections, including the Kelly M. Alexander, Sr. Papers; the Reginald A. Hawkins Papers; as well as oral history interviews with Reginald Hawkins and Benjamin Chavis in New South Voices.