Martin Luther King Jr. penned the now-famous "Letter from Birmingham Jail" on April 16, 1963, in response to the eight pastors who wrote a letter to Martin Luther King Jr. declaring that there was racial segregation to be addressed, but that it was a work for the courts and law, not ordinary people. The letter was published in New York Times on April 17.
It begins with an explanation of King's understanding of nonviolence as a way of life. He then goes on to argue that black Americans' freedom can only be achieved through peaceful protest and electoral politics. The letter ends with King urging his readers to remain faithful to their beliefs and continue to struggle for justice.
The "Birmingham Letter" has been cited by many leaders including Mohandas Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. It was also quoted by President Barack Obama during a speech at the National Defense University in 2009.
Obama said that the "letter from Birmingham jail is one of the few documents that captures the imagination of this nation like I believe our Declaration of Independence does."
King wrote other important letters while he was in prison including "Letter from a Birmingham Jail", "Letter from a Southern Prison", and "Letter from a Black Man".
They are all part of the "Letter From Birmingham Jail" series.
The "Letter from Birmingham Jail" by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a forceful and eloquent letter that persuasively argued that segregation is inherently unfair and should be combated via nonviolent protest. The letter was written from a Birmingham city jail to eight influential white clergy members who had been arrested for trespassing at a local church where they had attempted to force the city's bus drivers to stop discriminating against people of color.
King's letter outlined four points: first, that injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere; second, that violence is as American as apple pie; third, that non-violence is a much better path toward justice than violence; and fourth, that if Americans continue to refuse to work for true equality, then more and more people will feel compelled to turn to violence to get their rights.
This famous letter from Dr. King has been cited by many activists around the world who have used it as inspiration to fight for social change through non-violent means. It has been reprinted in many books about King, and has been included in many curricula about his life and work.
In addition to being an important piece of civil rights history, this letter from Birmingham jail is also considered by many to be one of the most beautiful documents ever written by Dr. King.
Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail" was a forceful and eloquent letter that persuasively argued that segregation is inherently unfair and should be challenged by peaceful means.
King wrote the letter in response to a set of messages received from religious leaders in Birmingham, Alabama, after he had been arrested for protesting racial segregation laws. The clergy members told him that civil disobedience was only useful until it became dangerous and then it was time for people to return to peace and quiet. In contrast, King said that even when nonviolent action was not yet dangerous, it was still ineffective because it did not challenge injustice directly. He concluded by arguing that segregationists could not be persuaded by reason alone and needed to understand that their actions were wrong.
The theme and message of King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail" are equality and nonviolence. Although written from a jail cell, the letter is considered one of the most important political documents of our time because it provides such an articulate statement about the need for peaceful change. Indeed, it has been cited as a justification by many activists who have chosen to risk their lives by taking part in acts of civil disobedience.
It has been five decades since Martin Luther King Jr. began writing his famous "Letter From Birmingham Jail," a response to eight white Alabama pastors who condemned King and were concerned that the civil rights movement might spark violence. King was not receiving enough support from the black community. In fact, many blacks believed he was too moderate.
In this letter, which was published in several newspapers across the country on April 16, 1963, King argued that nonviolent resistance was the only way to bring about major changes in the South. He also rejected their calls for him to abandon the civil rights campaign.
King wrote that if Americans accepted his philosophy of nonviolence, then whites would have to accept Negroes' right to vote and to sit at their tables. Otherwise, blacks would continue fighting for their rights.
The letter was very popular among blacks and helped King gain more support among liberal whites. It also encouraged other blacks to join the civil rights movement. After publishing it, King went into hiding for three days because he feared for his life.
He returned home on Easter Sunday but was arrested two days later at a protest outside a segregated movie theater. A trial was held where King's activism was praised but also criticized by an all-white jury. They found him guilty of violating an Alabama law against organizing demonstrations and sent him to jail.
Keep This Word! (1963). A letter sent by Martin Luther King, Jr. to his fellow clergymen while incarcerated in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963, following a nonviolent demonstration against racial discrimination (see also sit-ins). The 16-page typed letter was published in full for the first time in 1968.
Its publication brought about King's arrest and trial for violating Alabama's anti-riot law. He was acquitted by an all-white jury but was forced to move out of town. In addition to urging his colleagues to continue their protest activities, King writes that "lawlessness and violence are as evil as lynching," and he calls on them to accept imprisonment as a "small price to pay" for helping to end racism.
King wrote the letter from the Woodwinds Room of the Birmingham city jail. On April 12, he had led a group of protesters into City Hall to demand better housing and employment opportunities for blacks. The demonstrators were arrested and charged with trespassing. At his trial three days later, Judge Eugene Carter ordered King held without bond because of fears that he would flee if released. King wrote the letter from prison.
Then King explains that he is writing these words from prison, where he is waiting for his case to be tried before a judge.