Late Adulthood Essay

6948 words - 28 pages

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|  |AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER - UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA |  |
| |
| |
|"Letter from a Birmingham Jail [King, Jr.]" |
|16 April 1963 |
|My Dear Fellow Clergymen: ...view middle of the document...

Frequently we share staff, educational and|
|financial resources with our affiliates. Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in|
|a nonviolent direct action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented, and when the hour came we lived up to |
|our promise. So I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here. I am here because I have |
|organizational ties here. |
|But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their |
|villages and carried their "thus saith the Lord" far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul |
|left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco Roman world, so am I compelled|
|to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid. |
|Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be |
|concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an |
|inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. |
|Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States|
|can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds. |
|You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar |
|concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the|
|superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is |
|unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city's white power |
|structure left the Negro community with no alternative. |
|In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; |
|negotiation; self purification; and direct action. We have gone through all these steps in Birmingham. There can be no |
|gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in |
|the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the |
|courts. There have been more unsolved bombings of...

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