The Letter from Birmingham Jail is an open letter that was written by Martin Luther King Jr. on April 16, 1963. The main purpose of this letter was to defend the strategy of nonviolent resistance to racism. Through this letter, Martin Luther King Jr. told people that they should have a moral responsibility to break unfair laws and to take actions rather than just wait possibly forever to obtain justice through the courts.
After being published, the letter became very important for the American Civil Rights Movement that took place during the early 1960s.
On April 3, 1963, the Birmingham campaign began, with sit-ins and coordinated marches against racial segregation and racism in Birmingham, Alabama. This nonviolent campaign was coordinated by the King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. In a week, a blanket injunction was issued by Circuit Judge W. A. Jenkins, which forbidden demonstrating, parading, trespassing, boycotting, and picketing. It was announced by the leaders of the campaign that they would not obey the ruling. On April 12, Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested. He met really harsh conditions in the Birmingham jail. On the same day, a newspaper published a statement made eight Alabama clergymen against King. This provoked King, and he decided to write a response itself.
In his letter, he responded to several criticisms made by clergymen. He referred to himself as extremist but with a good purpose. King also expressed his negative attitude toward the police, and he really praised the nonviolent demonstrators in Birmingham.
King wrote his letter on the margins of a newspaper because it was everything he had. He gave the pieces of his letter to his lawyers to take it to movement headquarters. The Reverend Wyatt Walker and Willie Pearl Mackey, his secretary, began compiling and editing the literary puzzle.
Harvey Shapiro, an editor at the New York Times Magazine, asked King to write a letter for publication, but the Times decided not to publish it. Some excerpts from the letter were published without King's permission in 1963. For the first time, this letter was published as "Letter from Birmingham Jail." The letter became more popular in the summer, and it was reprinted in July. A full version of the letter was published in 1964 in King’s book Why We Can't Wait.
Between 1964 and 1996, the letter was reprinted fifty times.
The Letter from Birmingham Jail is an open letter that was written by Martin Luther King Jr. on April 16, 1963. The main purpose of this letter was to defend the strategy of nonviolent resistance to racism. Through this letter, Martin Luther King Jr.