Fifty years ago, the civil rights leader violated an injunction forbidding him to pray, sing or march in public in Birmingham, Ala. And he told his critics why.This year is the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s decision to violate an injunction forbidding him to pray, sing or march in public in Birmingham, Ala. On Good Friday 1963 (which fell on April 12 that year), King led a march from the 16th Street Baptist Church (where four black children would be killed in a bombing five months later), heading toward City Hall. He was almost immediately arrested, charged with violating a court order and taken to the Birmingham jail.
As he sat in jail on Easter Sunday and the days that followed, he wrote his "Letter From Birmingham Jail" to a group of moderate white clergymen who had issued a "call to unity" to civil rights activists, urging them to pursue legal remedies rather than engage in nonviolent protests. Anyone who hasn't read King's response lately (and most of us who have) would benefit from spending a few minutes reading it this Easter weekend.
King had journeyed to Birmingham to help lead an economic boycott of segregated stores, where blacks could shop but not work or eat. As he put it, "I am in Birmingham because injustice is here," and "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."