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Letter from Birmingham Jail

4.68  ·  Rating details ·  4,235 ratings  ·  367 reviews
April 16th. The year is 1963. Birmingham, Alabama has had a spring of non-violent protests known as the Birmingham Campaign, seeking to draw attention to the segregation against blacks by the city government and downtown retailers. The organizers longed to create a non-violent tension so severe that the powers that be would be forced to address the rampant racism head on. ...more
Audiobook, Digital Download, Unabridged, 1 page
Published April 15th 2013 by Mission Audio (first published April 16th 1963)
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Kelly Quinn Yes. In King's letter, he is addressing clergymen whose opinion is that he is an outside to Birmingham and that his civic action is "unwise."…moreYes. In King's letter, he is addressing clergymen whose opinion is that he is an outside to Birmingham and that his civic action is "unwise." "Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly" (2-3).(less)

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Rowena
Jan 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A link is provided here for anyone who would like to read this letter: http://www.wuhsd.org/cms/lib/CA010002...


Wonderful, powerful words. It's crazy to think that over 50 years later the same issues are STILL issues.

"You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails so express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations." <----Now THAT is a point to ponder! It amazes me that those in charge have to be told
...more
Iris P

Letter from Birmingham Jail

 photo MLK_zpswn4dskyq.jpg
Love this picture of MLK smiling!

Until now I had only read the most famous quotes of MLK's Letter from Birmingham Jail but I had never taken the time to read the full text.

To many, along with his "I Have A Dream" speech, this letter represents King's most relevant and impactful public statement, because it came at a crucial time when both he and the Civil Rights Movement were being heavily criticized and facing lots of pressure from both the political left and the
...more
Christy
Jan 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This "Birmingham jail" letter by MLK, Jr. and the UN Declaration of Human Rights are the only two "required readings" across all sections of Global Ethics at my college. Today we can recall the now famous lines: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny." The full letter is here: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/a....

I got a MLK, Jr. Award for my anti-racism work with largely "White on
...more
Debbie "DJ"
Jan 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, history
The perfect day to read Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's address to the eight white clergymen who called his activities in Birmingham "unwise & untimely. Dr. King has an extraordinary ability with words be they in speaking or writing. This impassioned response is one I will not forget. I do find it terribly sad that we are still have so far to go. While I found myself writing down many of his words, one caught my eye "Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than ...more
Lance Greenfield
I have a reputation for writing powerful, effective letters, and I am proud to say that I have successfully fought for the rights of many individuals against the bigger society who have attempted to repress them. However, this letter is many leagues above any letter that I have ever written!

It is inspiring. I wonder if there is any public record of the response from the eight clergymen to whom this open letter was addressed?

My reading of this letter, on the day after Martin Luther King Jr Day
...more
Rachel Aranda
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks
What can I say that hasn't been said already about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a person, his writings, and his speeches? It's all been said really.. Still I feel like I can add a little too this review.

Dr. King Jr. is a man that inspires me, and has ever since I was a kid, for his eloquence, pride in his people and heritage, and fight for what he believed in. When I've gone through tough times, including sexism and racism, I've looked to him for inspiration to not lash out with violence but
...more
Leah Craig
Jan 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Was not Amos an extremist for justice: "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream." Was not Paul an ...more
Teresa
Jan 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't normally read something based on the day it is, but today's page of my new book-a-day calendar was for Gospel of Freedom: Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Letter from Birmingham Jail and the Struggle That Changed a Nation and my calendar says the letter "would take its place among works by Thoreau and Lincoln as a signpost of moral argument".

Well, then and there I decided I needed to read it. The letter holds many, many quotable lines (and, sadly, relevance for today) but instead of taking
...more
David Schaafsma
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny."

Here’s the full letter:

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/...
Kath ❅
Jan 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-reads
This letter is so important and still reads to be so true and so relevant. I was assigned this for school (as well as on civil disobedience which I will be reading next) though I have read it before. It's also especially relevant because yesterday I marched in the women's march in Atlanta. I live in the 5th district in Atlanta and John Lewis is my congressman (my district is doing just fine,by the way. Don't believe everything you read in a tweet). He spoke at the march yesterday and told all of ...more
Soycd
Sep 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-novels

How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of Harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the
...more
˗ˏˋ janet ˊˎ˗
an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere
Lizzie
I read this for the first time as a whole this past MLK Day. A few amazing things struck me: I love how Dr. King starts off and then ends with a whole bit about how he usually is too damn busy to deal with the haters, but since these haters put him in jail he has time to write a really long letter. He also acknowledges in fairly humorous way how long this letter is: "Never before have I written a letter this long -- or should I say a book? ". It is of no surprise to anyone but the writing is ...more
Shiloah
Powerful, exemplary prose. I'm moved with every word.
Leslie
Feb 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I have lost my review twice now so this will be short. Read this! The text is available online here or at other sites. Dion Graham was a marvelous choice as narrator, as his voice has a similar timbre to MLK's - you can almost feel like King is speaking himself.
Ilya
May 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everyone should read this at least once.
Jeanne
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. (Kindle 21)

Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote Letter from Birmingham Jail in 1963, in response to a public statement from eight White religious leaders criticizing King's civil rights activities as "unwise and untimely." I write well on computer, but am almost incoherent with pen in hand. King was thoughtful as he outlined his argument in longhand. He observed, We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the
...more
Kara
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

“For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that ‘justice too long delayed is justice denied.’”

“I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but
...more
Jamie
Jan 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
You can find the full speech online and please take a few minutes to read it!
Tobias  den Haan
Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A staggeringly powerful letter; unfortunately still very relevant to the ongoing struggle against racism, segregation and prejudice. King Jr. writes humbly, beautifully and uses touching metaphors. The letter is riddled with many important takeaways for activists of all kinds.

A must-read for everyone.
Michael Kress
Jun 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1960s
In spite of the fact that this letter was written in 1963, it is still relevant to current events. Today, people are criticized for protesting at the wrong place and/or time. Examples would be kneeling during the National Anthem or blocking traffic. People also accused Martin Luther King Jr. of poor timing and he defended his actions in this letter. Another issue currently being discussed is the justification of separating immigrant families by people like Jeff Sessions and Sarah Sanders who ...more
Martin
Jul 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The only appropriate way to honor this masterpiece of moral strength and clarity, mind-altering eloquence, reason and crystal clear definition of the differences between justice and injustice is to quote the mighty Christopher Hitchens himself: " It is quite impossible...to read his sermons or watch recordings of his speeches without profound emotion of the sort that can sometimes bring genuine tears. Dr. King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” written in response to a group of white Christian ...more
Lindsay
Every bit as relevant today as it was then. I wish it hadn't taken me so long to read this--it is *so* good.

This is available on Hoopla. Dion Graham's cadence does justice to the intonation of Dr. King.
Edith Hope
Feb 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Sigh. This piece always makes me sad. And hopeful. And angry. And calm. All at once. And my students love it, although they can get confused about his audience, what exactly civil disobedience is, and why we haven't fixed everything by now.
Mario J.
Jan 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing and humbling, that he could write such a letter in the confines of a jail where the conditions am sure were deplorable for whites even worse for the colored.
Alisa
Jan 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Every person on the planet.
Powerful. Searing. Eloquent. Masterful. The moral argument of our time.
Melhara
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

This letter, by Martin Luther King Jr, was written when he was arrested in 1963 for leading a peaceful protest. At times, this letter read like a lengthy sermon and got pretty religious, talking about God, Jesus and the Church. While I didn't care much for the sections about the Church, overall, this letter was a very eloquently written piece of work on justice and injustice.
One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and
...more
Michael
This is a must read for everyone, there are so many highlights in this book but I am going to try my best to summarize the best ones.]

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

"Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection."

"I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour. But even if the church does not come to the aid of justice, I have no despair about the future. I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham,
...more
Erinn Schneider
Jan 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've had a very slow start to 2020, and something short and powerful like this was just what I needed to get my dragging feet to start moving.

The injustices of MLK's time are still alive and well today, but I have to believe that more people than ever before want better for everybody. White moderates still exist, but more people than ever before are not afraid to challenge the comfort of white moderates (though here we must tread lightly; you can't attack people and expect their sympathy). More
...more
Teresa
How have I not read/listened to this before today? Convicting. Relevant. Timeless. I cannot separate my faith from concern about social injustices surrounding me. Even if I am overwhelmed, even if I'm not sure how to help, I cannot keep sticking my head in the sand for the sake of my own comfort. And even if all I am equipped to do right now is pray, how can I pray for peace and justice concerning situations which I know nothing about?

I have felt that finding the truth about injustices
...more
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Madison Mega-Mara...: Letter from a Birmingham Jail 1 7 Jul 14, 2013 07:18AM  

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Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of the pivotal leaders of the American civil rights movement. King was a Baptist minister, one of the few leadership roles available to black men at the time. He became a civil rights activist early in his career. He led the Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955–1956) and helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (1957), serving as its first president. His ...more
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” 260 likes
“I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.” 112 likes
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