Study Guide

Ralph Abernathy in Letter from Birmingham Jail

By Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ralph Abernathy

Ralph Abernathy was Dr. King's mentor, advisor, assistant, and best friend. Oh, and his co-rebel with a cause, as he was arrested with Dr. King at the same time during the Birmingham campaign.

But way before that, he started the Montgomery Improvement Association and the SCLC with Dr. King. They were a dynamic duo—like Batman and Robin, but without the Batmobile. Or the bat-cave. Or… okay, so they were nothing like Batman and Robin, but they were equally as awesome.

During the course of the Civil Rights Movement, they worked together and suffered together. Like Dr. King, Abernathy's home was bombed. And the two got arrested 17 times side by side. If that's not a sign of a true friendship, we don't know what is. (Uh, P.S. we don't advocate for getting arrested with your friends. Just to clear that up.)

After Dr. King's death, Abernathy became president of the SCLC and led the Poor People's Campaign that they had planned together. But the organization and the movement were never the same, and both Abernathy and the SCLC eventually faded from public attention.

Robin without Batman just isn't as effective.

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