April 12, 1963
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., on Good Friday, violated a court injunction prohibiting public civil rights demonstrations in the city. Local police officers arrested King and a handful of protestors, including the Rev. Ralph Abernathy, and transported them to the Birmingham city jail, where 40 years earlier, a prisoner had penned a mournful folk ballad about the place that included the line “write me a letter; send it by mail; send it in care of Birmingham jail.” Early during his eight-day imprisonment, King began composing a response to white ministers who questioned why King and protesters had chosen to stage their protests in Birmingham. Those pieces of paper given to his lawyers became “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” the most important written document of the civil rights era.
Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.
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