Letter from Birmingham Jail

The “Letter from Birmingham Jail” is an important text in the history of the American Civil Rights Movement.

Written on April 16, 1963 by Martin Luther King Jr, it is an open letter urging the public to take action against injustice rather than waiting for the courts to provide said justice. King wrote the letter as a response to the “A Call for Unity”, written by white Alabama clergymen and decrying King’s action, claiming instead that whilst racial injustice did indeed exist, it was a matter for the courts to resolve.

The text was written by King when he was detained in Birmingham jail after being arrested during a nonviolent protest in Birmingham, Alabama.  The “Letter from Birmingham Jail” was first published in June 1963, in the LiberationThe Christian Century and The New Leader. It was widely reprinted during the 1960s in countless other publications.