Here is the famous “Heed Their Rising Voices” advertisement that ran in the New York Times on March 29, 1960.
Here is a transcript of the advertisement.
The New York Times
NEW YORK, TUESDAY, MARCH 29, 1960
“The growing movement of peaceful mass
demonstrations by Negroes is something
new in the South, something understandable….
Let Congress heed their rising voices,
for they will be heard.”
– New York Times editorial
Saturday, March 19, 1960
As the whole world knows by now, thousands of Southern Negro students are engaged in wide-spread non-violent demonstrations in positive affirma-tion of the right to live in human dignity as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. In their efforts to uphold these guarantees, they are being met by an unprecedented wave of terror by those who would deny and negate that document which the whole world looks upon as setting the pattern for modern freedom….
In Orangeburg, South Carolina, when 400 students peacefully sought to buy doughnuts and coffee at lunch counters in the business district, they were forcibly ejected, tear-gassed, soaked to the skin in freezing weather with fire hoses, arrested en masse and herded into an open barbed-wire stockade to stand for hours in the bitter cold.
In Montgomery, Alabama, after students sang “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” on the State Capitol steps, their leaders were expelled from school, and truck-loads of police armed with shotguns and tear-gas ringed the Alabama State College Campus. When the entire student body protested to state authorities by refusing to re-register, their dining hall was pad-locked in an attempt to starve them into submission.
In Tallahassee, Atlanta, Nashville, Savannah, Greensboro, Memphis, Richmond, Charlotte, and a host of other cities in the South, young American teen-agers, in face of the entire weight of official state appa-ratus and police power, have boldly stepped forth as protagonists of democracy. Their courage and amaz-ing restraint have inspired millions and given a new dignity to the cause of freedom.
Small wonder that the Southern violators of the Constitution fear this new, non-violent brand of freedom fighter…even as they fear the upswelling right-to-vote movement. Small wonder that they are determined to destroy the one man who, more than any other, symbolizes the new spirit now sweeping the South-the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., world-famous leader of the Montgomery Bus Protest. For it is his doctrine of non-violence which has inspired and guided the students in their widening wave of sit-ins; and it this same Dr. King who founded and is president of the Southern Christian Leadership Con-ference-the organization which is spearheading the surging right-to-vote movement. Under Dr. King’s direction the Leadership Conference conducts Stu-dent Workshops and Seminars in the philosophy and technique of non-violent resistance.
Again and again the Southern violators have answered Dr. King’s peaceful protests with intimida-tion and violence. They have bombed his home almost killing his wife and child. They have assaulted his person. They have arrested him seven times-for “speeding.” “loitering” and similar “offenses.” And now they have charged with “perjury”-a I under which they could imprison him for ten years. Obviously, their real purpose is to remove him physi-cally as the leader to whom the students and millions of others—look for guidance and support, and thereby to intimidate all leaders who may rise in the South. Their strategy is to behead this affirmative movement, and thus to demoralize Negro Americans and weaken their will to struggle. The defense of Martin Luther King, spiritual leader of the student sit-in movement, clearly, therefore, is an integral part of the total struggle for freedom in the South.
Decent-minded Americans cannot help but applaud the creative daring of the students and the quiet heroism of Dr. King. But this is one of those moments in the stormy history of Freedom when men and women of good will must do more than applaud the rising-to-glory of others. The America whose good name hangs in the balance before a watchful world, the America whose heritage of Liberty these Southern Upholders of the Constitution are defending, is our America as well as theirs…
We must heed their rising voices-yes-but we must add our own.
We must extend ourselves above and beyond moral support and render the material help so urgently needed by those who are taking the risks, facing jail, and even death in a glorious re-affirmation of our Constitution and its Bill of Rights.
We urge you to join hands with our fellow Amer-icans in the South by supporting, with your dollars, this Combined Appeal for all three needs-the defense of Martin Luther King-the support of the embattled students-and the struggle for the right-to-vote.
Your Help is Urgently Needed…NOW!!
L.B. Sullivan, the Public Safety Commissioner of Montgomery, Alabama found the advertisement libelous, as there were several inaccurate statements. King was arrested four times, not seven times. Even though Sullivan was not named, he brought a libel suit in his capacity as head of the police department.
Sullivan is standing to the right of the horse.
Here is Sullivan talking with police officers.
Here is Sullivan with his family in 1962.