Monday, January 27, 2014

MLK & Birmingham Jail

 I was in Kingston on Friday afternoon and hoped to get to the Queen's library, but the inclement weather sent me scurrying home. I wanted to see the illustrated book pictured here, called Letter from Birmingham City Jail. The images were created by Faith Ringgold and this is a limited edition volume selling for about $5000 a pop. She generously gave one to the university during a recent visit and it is now on display on the main floor.

The letter she has illustrated with eight images was written by Martin Luther King Jr. while under arrest in Birmingham jail in 1963 and smuggled out. It was in response to criticism of the non-violent civil rights protests for not giving administrations sufficient time to respond to requests for change. Dr. King writes eloquently despite his circumstances. Some have offered that this letter is Spirit-inspired, to the degree that if there were ever a "newer" testament to supplement the two in our bible this letter should be included. Here is an example of King's thoughts:

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. 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."

The image below is of reminds us of the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama on Sunday, September 15, 1963. It was an act of white supremacist terrorism and killed four young girls This cowardly attack marked a turning point in the Civil Rights Movement and contributed to support for passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

I will get to Kingston to have a gander at the book, God willing. Does it pique your interest? Did you know about this letter by MLK? It is readily available online. Any other observations? 

Birmingham church bombing

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