Letter from Birmingham Jail
Martin Luther King, Jr. was way more than a speech man.
|American Literature||All American Literature|
|Author||King Jr. - Martin Luther King Jr.|
our nation’s history.
One man who really knew how to string a series of words together was Dr. Martin Luther King,
Whether the words were coming out of his mouth or out of his pen…
…he knew how to stir emotion, and how to move people to action.
First, let’s be clear… King wasn’t in jail because he had been caught breaking and
entering, or because he wasn’t keeping up with alimony payments.
He had been marching against racial segregation.
While in jail, he wrote this letter.
It was in response to the “Call to Unity,” a statement made by a number of Birmingham
clergymen who felt it was wrong of King to demonstrate and stir up trouble in the streets
to get his point across. But King wasn’t about to let them… rain
on his parade. Besides, the black community wasn’t really given any more… peaceable
In his letter, King insisted that when it came to unjust laws…
…it was the people’s moral obligation to see that they were eradicated, by whatever
non-violent methods they deemed most appropriate or effective.
So, basically… no one was going to tell him he couldn’t protest against something
he didn’t believe was right.
You tell ‘em, Doc. King wrote, “Injustice anywhere is a threat
to justice everywhere.
“We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of
“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly…
“Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider…”
His words were a bit much for some people to swallow at first…
…but they certainly had an impact.
The letter was published in the New York Post…
…and later in King’s book Why We Can’t Wait.
It became incredibly popular, and was passed around, copied, and quoted for years to come.
It went a long way in swaying the minds of those struggling with the issue…
…and maybe planted a seed or two of doubt in the minds of even the most rigidly stubborn
individuals. Without a doubt, it is one of the most significant
works ever to come out of a jail cell.
That is, if you don’t count the letter “How Much Longer Until Bubba and I Get a Chance
to Use the Community Bathroom?” by Inmate 43872.
Strangely, that letter was also published in a book entitled Why We Can’t Wait.