On Tuesday, people are marking the 50th anniversary of the day Martin Luther King, Jr. began writing his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” with public readings of the letter around the globe, including libraries, museums, schools, universities, churches, synagogues, temples, work places, public parks, bookstores, coffee shops and street corners.
You can read King’s “Letter” here. Every time I have read it I have come away in awe of its vast trajectory across the globe and across the span of history, condensing civil disobedience efforts from biblical times up to the moment King began pressing pen to paper.
King was not just a powerful orator, the civil rights leader was a good writer. He begins the letter by politely begging to differ with critics, men he notes “are of good will.” By the letter’s end, the thunder of King’s anger and dismay over the impacts of racism reverberates on the page.
When it comes to ensuring his children and other children of color grow up in a world where they are treated more justly than their parents, King argues in one of the most powerful pieces of correspondence ever, why he declines to wait.
“When the hour came we lived up to our promise.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.