Written by Laura Laugle
Ever since finding the photo below I’ve been attempting to find its origin. As I stated in my previous blog post, Hmmm…, the photo was found in an envelope with other, non-related pictures from the collection. Not too long after posting the picture on the blog, I received a tip from the Berry family that the King photo and the JFK photo I posted along with it may have been taken while Berry was at the White House at the invitation of President Kennedy on June 21, 1963. Looking through Kennedy’s diaries for that time, I found that the meeting Berry attended was specifically for lawyers, so King probably wasn’t present. There was however another meeting listed in Kennedy’s diary for June 22 which Dr. King did attend. It is therefore very possible that Berry and King could have had overlapping visits to the White House and met in that context.
Not long after discovering this possible link, I discovered something else: this letter thanking Mr. Berry for an introduction to King at an address he gave on September 27, 1964. I have been unable to get definite confirmation that Berry and King met on either of these two occasions, but I was reasonably sure that the above photo was taken at one of these events. I was therefore extremely surprised yesterday to find that I was completely wrong! Upon opening a new “Berry Box” (it’s something like opening birthday presents every day only there’s generally more dust involved here) I found a scrapbook full of newspaper clippings, event programs and photographs from Berry’s 1959 campaign for Cincinnati City Council. In it were programs and photographs from a “Register to Vote Campaign” event sponsored by the “Berry Backers,” a group urging Berry to run for Cincinnati City Council. Who was the guest speaker at this event? You guessed it! Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., of course. There was even another (albeit less flattering) photo in the scrapbook which clearly shows that both men are wearing the same clothes as they are in the mystery photo. Mystery solved!
In 2010, the University of Cincinnati Libraries received a $61,287 grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission of the Archives and Records Administration to fully process the Theodore M. Berry Collection in the Archives & Rare Books Library. All information and opinions published on the Berry project website and in the blog entries are those of the individuals involved in the grant project and do not reflect those of the National Archives and Records Administration. We gratefully acknowledge the support of NARA.