Read Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘Letter From a Birmingham Jail’

The bare facts about Martin Luther King Jr. are the things everyone knows. Simply put, it’s difficult to think of a single individual in recent history who can be so credited with changing a national mindset. What’s often forgotten is just how controversial of a figure he was at the time, even among his alleged colleagues. In 1963, after he was arrested for a peaceful protest, a group of white pastors wrote a statement they called “A Call for Unity,” condemning Dr. King for his actions, and pleading with African Americans to just follow the law.

In response, Dr. King wrote his famous “Letter From a Birmingham Jail,” which remains one of history’s finest and most articulate expressions of peaceful resistance, detailing his belief in a moral responsibility to break unjust laws. Dr. King wrote it on scraps of paper which were smuggled out and organized by a local pastor. It had been intended for The New York Times, but that publication was too nervous to publish it, and the letter bounced around on smaller publications until The Atlantic picked it up in July. But you can, and should, read the whole thing right here

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