About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for Nine Days: The Race to Save Martin Luther King Jr.’s Life

Greetings from the National Archives. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and it's my pleasure to welcome you to today’s virtual book talk with Stephen and Paul Kendrick, the two authors of Nine Days.

Before we begin, though, I’d like to tell you about two upcoming programs you can view on our YouTube channel.

On Tuesday, February 16, at noon, Robert Watson will discuss his new book, George Washington’s Final Battle, which describes Washington’s active role in choosing the location of a new capital on the shores of the Potomac.

And on Monday, February 22, at noon, Robert Elder will tell us about Calhoun: American Heretic, his new biography of John C. Calhoun, one of the most notorious and enigmatic figures in American political history. Elder argues that Calhoun’s story is crucial for understanding today’s political climate.

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Many of the authors we feature in these programs have conducted research in the records held by the National Archives and its Presidential Libraries, and I often check the acknowledgments of new releases. It makes me proud to see that the Kendricks not only made use of our records but also thanked two staff members by name—Maryrose Grossman and James Hill of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.

The 1960 campaign was one of the most hotly contested and closest Presidential elections. Neither John F. Kennedy nor Richard Nixon had spoken forcefully on issues of race, but the arrest of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., just weeks before the election forced the campaigns to choose action or silence.

Nine Days has earned a number of positive reviews so far. The Washington Post’s reviewer, Nick Bryant, remarked that “It is an enthralling story, not least because it brings together such an extraordinary and era-defining dramatis personae.”

Raymond Arsenault, writing in the New York Times, said that “No brief review can do full justice to the Kendricks’ masterly and often riveting account of King’s ordeal and the 1960 “October Surprise” that may have altered the course of modern American political history.”

And in the Chicago Tribune, Rick Kogan calls Nine Days an “enlightening and captivating work” that “tackles . . . a story that resonates loudly in our current times as a thoughtful examination of the tricky relationship between race and politics.”

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In addition to Nine Days, Stephen Kendrick and Paul Kendrick have written Douglass and Lincoln, about Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, and Sarah’s Long Walk, a story of the struggle for equality by free Black inhabitants of Boston before the Civil War.

Their articles have appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Sun-Times, Fortune, American Heritage, and Huffington Post.  

Stephen is the senior minister of First Church Boston, Unitarian Universalist, and the author of The Lively Place: Mount Auburn, America's First Garden Cemetery.

Paul is the executive director of Rust Belt Rising, a Midwest political training organization, as well as an adjunct professor at National Louis University in Chicago. Paul served in President Obama's White House and on his 2012 Wisconsin campaign.

Now let’s hear from Stephen and Paul Kendrick. Thank you for joining us today.