50th Anniversary of MLK’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail”


circa 1965: American civil rights leader and Baptist Minister, Martin Luther King (1929 – 1968). A leader of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, he became America’s foremost campaigner for civil rights and addressed the vast crowd at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC during the march for jobs and freedom. He was shot dead on the […]

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GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Guntersville librarians and Marshall County officials celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail” with a public reading of the letter at the Marshall County Courthouse.

The civil rights leader wrote the open letter April 16, 1963; exactly 50 years earlier.

Birmingham police arrested more than 50 people April 12, 1963, including King, Fred Shuttlesworth, and Ralph Abernathy, as they protested segregation and a recent court order issued by Circuit Judge W. A. Jenkins that prohibited the participation in or encouragement of “parading, demonstrating, boycotting, trespassing and picketing.”

While he was in jail, King received a copy of an open letter by eight Alabama clergymen titled “A Call for Unity” which wanted activists to use the courts instead of protest.

King responded with his letter which argued civil action was necessary.

Birmingham Public Library is sponsoring a worldwide celebration of King’s letter, with public readings set for Tuesday across Alabama and around the world.

The Library’s website lists participating locations on all seven continents, including students in the UAB in Antarctica program at Palmer Station on Anvers Island.

Other Tennessee Valley-area participants include Sardis High School, Snead State Community College, and the Fayetteville-Lincoln County Public Library

You can read a scanned copy of one of the original publications of “Letter From Birmingham Jail” at The King Center website by clicking here.

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