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26 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 835 (1992-1993)
Letter from Birmingham Jail

handle is hein.journals/davlr26 and id is 847 raw text is: Letter from Birmingham Jail*
April 16, 1963
While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across
your recent statement calling my present activities unwise and
untimely. Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and
ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk,
my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such
correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no
time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of
genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth,
I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be
patient and reasonable terms.
I think I should indicate why I am here in Birmingham, since
you have been influenced by the view which argues against out-
siders coming in. I have the honor of serving as president of the
Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization
operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta,
Georgia. We have some eighty-five affiliated organizations across
the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement
for Human Rights. Frequently we share staff, educational and
financial resources with our affiliates. Several months ago the
affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in a
nonviolent direct-action program if such were deemed necessary.
© Reprinted by arrangement with the Heirs of the Estate of Martin Luther
King, Jr., c/o Joan Daves Agency as agent for the proprietor. Copyright
1963 by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., copyright renewed 1991 by Coretta
Scott King.
* AUTHOR's NOTE: This response to a published statement by eight fellow
clergymen from Alabama (Bishop C. C. J. Carpenter, Bishop Joseph A.
Durick, Rabbi Hilton L. Grafman, Bishop Paul Hardin, Bishop Holan B.
Harmon, the Reverend George M. Murray, the Reverend Edward V.
Ramage and the Reverend Earl Stallings) was composed under somewhat
constricting circumstances. Begun on the margins of the newspaper in
which the statement appeared while I was in jail, the letter was continued on
scraps of writing paper supplied by a friendly Negro trusty, and concluded
on a pad my attorneys were eventually permitted to leave me. Although the
text remains in substance unaltered, I have indulged in the author's
prerogative of polishing it for publication.


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