Martin Luther King, Jr: Letter from Birmingham Jail



In “Letter from Birmingham Jail” (April 16th 1963) Martin Luther King, Jr defends fighting racism with non-violent protest.

Famous lines:

“one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws”

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

“freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. “

King was arrested on Good Friday 1963 during protests in Birmingham, Alabama against Jim Crow. Police chief Bull Connor had protesters beat up – unarmed men, women and children! He turned dogs and fire hoses on them.

In an open letter, eight White Alabama religious leaders said the protests were “unwise”, “untimely”, “extreme”, led to “hatred and violence”, that the police were “calm”. Blacks should obey the law and patiently seek change through the courts.

King said one has a moral duty to disobey unjust laws. Like the Boston Tea Party, the protesters were heroes of US democracy. And, if not for them, Whites would be…

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