Today, Tuesday April 16th, marks 50 years since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote his famous letter from the Birmingham jail. In 1963, King sat in a Downtown Birmingham jail cell surrounded by street clashes of protests for and against equal rights for African-Americans. King was arrested after leading a non violent march against segregation. The civil rights leader was in jail from April 12 to April 20th.
It was during this imprisonment that he penned thoughts, responding to a letter written by local white religious leaders who asked him and other civil rights leaders to end ongoing protests and exercise patience. King's response, clear and direct, expressed continuing protests and demonstration for civil rights for all. The open letter written by Dr. King is widely regarded as one of the most pivotal writings that occurred during the Civil Rights movement. King's words, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere," is one of the most referenced sentences from his letter.
On Tuesday morning Birmingham Mayor William Bell will read Dr. King's letter at the downtown branch of the Birmingham Public Library.
Below is a media release highlighting other events planned to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a Letter from Birmingham Jail.
For immediate release Monday, April 15, 2013
Letter from Birmingham Jail: A Worldwide Celebration
Birmingham Library Encourages All to Read King's Letter
Birmingham, Alabama—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested and placed in solitary confinement in the Birmingham City Jail on Good Friday, April 12, 1963. During the time of his incarceration—which lasted through April 20—King wrote his legendary epistle Letter From Birmingham Jail. While area clergymen encouraged black leaders like King, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and the other demonstration organizers to put off the massive protests, from his jail cell King penned a letter which encouraged the remaining movement leaders to continue to press forward with the their plans. King's letter included many memorable phrases including these words, ". . . when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of nobodiness—then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait."
On April 16, 2013, the 50th anniversary of the day that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. began writing his Letter from Birmingham Jail, the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) will sponsor a program titled Letter from Birmingham Jail: A Worldwide Celebration. At the Central Library, library supporters, staff and other participants will read excerpts from the letter beginning at 12:00 noon in the Atrium of the East Building. Additionally, the library's staff has shared invitations for other groups around the globe including libraries, museums, schools, universities, churches, synagogues, temples, places where people work, public parks, bookstores, street corners, coffee shops and anywhere that people want to participate, to organize planned readings of the letter—to date, 224 locations have responded.
People who participate in the readings can read the full text of the Letter or selections from the Letter, individually, as a group, or however they want to do this. Groups participating may range from two people to hundreds of people. Readings can be done at any time of the day on April 16. For more information, visit http://www.bplonline.org/letterfrombirminghamjail.
The mission of Birmingham Public Library is to provide the highest quality library service to our citizens for life-long learning, cultural enrichment, and enjoyment. This system—with eighteen locations and serving the community for 126 years—is one of the largest library systems in the southeast. For additional information, visit the website at www.bplonline.org and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
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