My MLK Day: Letter from Birmingham Jail...


On Monday we hosted our 7th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service at Lewis Elementary. I am happy to report that we had over 40 students, parents, and teachers out for the event. It was great to see many students reference their service by noting that their teachers had encouraged them to attend.

Before I went to school for the service event, I spent some time reading. I utilize an app on my iPad called Flipboard that helps me follow and keep track of news and social media posts that point to interesting articles. I start most days with this app and a cup of coffee. This morning the first thing that caught my eye on this MLK day was a pointer to the text of Dr. Martin Luther King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail." I read this many years ago, most likely as part of some class in college. Today I took some time to read it again. I must say I believe the reading I did today had a greater impact from when I first read it.

It is a remarkable piece of writing and it is something that should be shared with students. It was composed by Dr. King in April of 1963 from his jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama. He had recently been arrested for violating a ban on demonstrations. It was written as "response to local religious leaders’ criticisms of the campaign: “Never before have I written so long a letter. I’m afraid it is much too long to take your precious time. I can assure you that it would have been much shorter if I had been writing from a comfortable desk, but what else can one do when he is alone in a narrow jail cell, other than write long letters, think long thoughts and pray long prayers?”

The letter is a defense of the civil rights movement and a rebuke and call to action for those that felt that the time was not right to demand equality and an end to injustice. You can read the full text at the link above and also read a bit of background here.

Happy King Day!