Every January, we honor the life and work of the great civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. (1929–1968). If you read only one of King’s writings, I would encourage you to read his “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” written in April 1963 while he was incarcerated in the city jail. The letter served primarily as a response to a statement from a group of Christian clergymen who questioned King’s methods of confronting the problem of racial segregation in Birmingham.
King, himself a pastor, sets forth his motives, intentions, and justification for the nonviolent civil rights movement that he lead in America in the 1950s and 1960s. He also provides a rational, moral, and theological defense of his life’s work.
Reading this letter would be a great way to honor Dr. King and to reflect upon the critical moral issue of justice. King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” can be found online here: http://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html.