MLK’s Birmingham Jail Letter Gets Historical Marker

Letter From Birmingham Jail

By Verna Gates
BIRMINGHAM, Ala., April 16 (Reuters) – Martin Luther King  Jr.’s daughter helped unveil a historical marker on Tuesday in  the Alabama city where he penned his famous “Letter from  Birmingham Jail,” as people worldwide held readings to mark the  50th anniversary of the civil rights leader’s words.
More than 100 people gathered outside a former jail in  Birmingham, Alabama, to commemorate the letter, which King wrote  from a jail cell on April 16, 1963, in response to eight white  clergymen who criticized his demonstrations against segregation  as “unwise and untimely.”
King had been arrested for violating a law against mass  public demonstrations in a southern U.S. city rife with racial  unrest. His letter, an important document from the civil rights  movement, contains the oft-quoted line “injustice anywhere is a  threat to justice everywhere.”
“The City of Birmingham tried to run him out of town and now  is honoring him as one of their heroes. How times have changed,”  said King’s youngest daughter, Bernice King, who serves as chief  executive officer of the King Center in Atlanta.
Bernice King joined Alabama’s governor and other elected  officials at a ceremony for the new marker outside the former  jail, now an administrative office for the Birmingham Police  Department.
The original jail cell is on display at the Birmingham Civil  Rights Institute.
Her father wrote the lengthy letter in the margins of a  newspaper, on scraps of paper from a black jail trustee and,   finally, on paper brought in by King’s lawyers.
He chastised the slow path to justice preferred by white  moderates, whom he called “the Negro’s great stumbling block.”
Governor Robert Bentley said he reread the letter on the eve  of the anniversary.
“Over the course of 7,000 powerful words, King shared the  painful struggles of those who suffered discrimination,” Bentley  said. “We are better and stronger today because of his actions.”
People from 28 U.S. states and 10 countries notified the  Birmingham Public Library that they planned to remember King’s  letter by reading it aloud on Tuesday, said Jim Baggett, the  library’s archivist.
“It has a tremendous meaning all around the world and  inspired activities such as Tiananmen Square,” Baggett said.     “It speaks to people who are oppressed and seeking justice.”     (Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Todd Eastham)

letter from birmingham jail Fifty years after her father, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was jailed in Birmingham, Bernice A. King unveils a historic marker honoring Dr. King. Bernice A. King is flanked by Birmingham mayor William Bell, left, and Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley. (AP Photo/, Joe Songer)

letter from birmingham jail Fifty years after her father, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was jailed in Birmingham, Bernice A. King stands by an historic marker honoring her father. Dr. King penned the famous “Letter from the Birmingham Jail” at the site. (AP Photo/, Joe Songer )


2 thoughts on “MLK’s Birmingham Jail Letter Gets Historical Marker

  1. Pingback: 50th Anniversary of MLK’s ‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail’ | JSC: Jamaicans in Solidarity with Cuba

  2. Pingback: Letter From Birmingham | My Little Secret

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