Creating The Future with Brent Simpson

20. Letter from a Birmingham Jail

August 17, 2020

On April 3rd, 1963 the Birmingham, Alabama civil rights campaign began with coordinated marches and sit-ins against racism and racial segregation in Birmingham.


On April 10th, Birmingham Judge W. A. Jenkins Jr. issued an injunction against "parading, demonstrating, boycotting, trespassing and picketing." Leaders of the civil rights campaign quickly announced they would disobey the ruling.


Therefore, on April 12, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested, along with many other marchers.  


A friend was able to smuggle him in a newspaper from April 12, which contained "A Call for Unity", a statement by eight Alabama clergymen against King and his methods.


The letter affected Rev. King deeply, and from his cell he began to write a response to the “A Call to Unity” clergymen.


He began writing his response on the margins of the newspaper, then on scraps of writing paper supplied by friends, and then it was concluded on a pad the attorneys were allowed to leave him.


This response became known as a “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” and was eventually published in June of 1963 in several magazines.


It became a seminal work of Rev. King and has gone on to become one of the most important letters in the Civil Rights Movement.


It is for this reason, that we at Arise Church decided to resurrect this old letter in the voices of some of our members. As Rev. King wrote, we must all continually strive to “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

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