Tag Archives: Letter From a Birmingham Jail

Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter From a Birmingham Jail”

In honor of Martin Luther King Day, I am posting what is easily one of the greatest examples of writing of the 20th century. This is an open letter written on April 16, 1963, written from the city jail in Birmingham, Alabama, where King was confined after being arrested for his part in the Birmingham campaign, a non-violent protest against racial segregation by Birmingham’s city government and downtown retailers.

I am particularly inspired right now to post this by the students in my class last semester, none of which could tell me what “Jim Crow” laws were (three of the students were African American.) Perhaps Mr. King would be pleased to know that we live in a time when young people don’t even have to know the name of these savage laws, but I think he would be more likely to invoke Edward Burke’s famous phrase that “Those that don’t know history are bound to repeat it.”

Click on the link to open the pdf:

Letter from A Birmingham Jail