Martin Luther King, Jr. began writing his famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail” 50 years ago today. He wrote it as he sat in the city’s jail, arrested on Good Friday – April 12, 1963 – during one of the street protests and boycotts that his national Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth’s Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (an SCLC affiliate) organized to actively oppose racial segregation and its evils.
Locked in solitary confinement, the good reverend doctor had a lot of time on his hands. His aides brought him a newspaper, where he read an article by eight white clergymen of Christian and Jewish faiths. The Birmingham ministers criticized the Movement’s mayhem in the city, calling on King to stop the “untimely” protests.
The letter he wrote in response – scribbled around the edges of newspaper and on toilet tissue, then later transcribed by his aides into a formal document — is considered one of the most brilliant piece of protest literature. It powerfully and clearly demonstrates Dr. King’s intellectual discipline and moral authority on the issue of racial injustice. His famous “Letter” is read and studied around the world. Continue reading →