Let Freedom Ring
“I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are presently misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom.”
—Martin Luther King Jr., “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” April 16, 1963.
On Monday, the country observes Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a federal holiday established in 1986 to honor the life and legacy of the Baptist minister and civil rights leader. On April 16, 1963, King sat in a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama, having been arrested for “parading without a permit” to protest segregationist policies and unjust laws. In jail, he penned a 7,000-word essay in response to a public statement of eight white, southern religious leaders who criticized the march and questioned the tactic of nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience. The “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” became a landmark document of the civil rights movement.