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Martin Luther King Jr.

1963 – MLK LETTER FROM BIRMINGHAM JAIL

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On April 16, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. penned his historic letter from a jail in Birmingham, AL. He initially wrote the letter in the margins of a newspaper, from his jail cell.  

King was intentionally arrested to help garner support for his work in the city.  The letter was written in response to criticism he received from white clergy in Birmingham who openly challenged his approach to fighting segregation through, protests, boycotts, and non violence.  The clergy criticizing King felt that he should operate within the confines of the law to accomplish his goals.  There were also those both black and white that felt King was stirring up trouble that could hinder progress.  King was also criticized for being an “outsider” who was stirring up trouble in the community.  

King eloquently articulated in the letter “why we can’t wait.” In honor of the historic letter, we are sharing two of our favorite quotes contained in the letter. These quotes still ring true today!!  To read the letter in its entirety click here.




MLK QUOTE

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“Some people are so worn down by the yoke of oppression that they give up…. The oppressed must never allow the conscience of the oppressor to slumber…. To accept injustice or segregation passively is to say to the oppressor that his actions are morally right. ” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.


Diane Nash – Unsung Hero Of The Civil Rights Movement

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A native of Chicago, IL, Diane Nash (1938-) was one of the pioneering forces behind the Civil Rights movement. Nash and many other women  were champions of the movement.  She became active in the movement in 1959 as a new student at Fisk University in Nashville, TN.  While at Fisk she would encounter the harsh realities of segregation and prejudice that were previously unknown to her.  In 1959 she attended a workshop focused on non-violent protesting. She would quickly become a respected leader of Nashville’s “sit in” movement.  Her efforts were instrumental in organizing the first successful campaign to end segregation of lunch counters.  This effort engaged hundreds of black and white college students as volunteers.  She was also one of the founders of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).  SNCC would play a major role in the civil rights movement by engaging young college students in civil rights activism.  These efforts were successful and in 1960, Nashville became first southern city to desegregate lunch counters.  Continue reading “Diane Nash – Unsung Hero Of The Civil Rights Movement”

MLK Quote: He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetuate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.

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He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetuate it.  He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Did you miss yesterday’s post?  Click here to learn more about Lily Ann Granderson, a former slave who established “midnight schools” to teach other slaves to read and write.

Prathia Hall: Where MLK First Heard “I Have A Dream”

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Prathia Hall

In 1962 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was visiting Terrell County, Georgia to speak at Mt. Olive Baptist Church. The church had recently been burned down by the Klu Klux Klan. As part of the service Prathia Hall, a young college student, who was volunteer with SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee) was invited to pray. Hall was the daughter of Rev. Berkeley Hall, a Baptist minister and was known for her oratory skills. Through her prayer, she shared her personal vision of what she hoped for the future of Black Americans. In her prayer, she used the phrase, “I Have A Dream” many times. Dr. King was very impressed with Prathia’s prayer. In particular, he admired her use of the phrase, “I Have A Dream”. As ministers often do, King would later incorporate “I Have A Dream” into some of his own speeches. By late 1962, the phrase was reported to have been a regular part of King’s sermons. The phrase also became popular due to its use during 2 historic 1963 civil rights marches by Dr. King; “Walk To Freedom” march in Detroit and the “March on Washington” in Washington DC.

Prathia Hill grew up in Philadelphia. Her father, Reverend Berkeley Hall, was a passionate advocate for racial justice. She left her college studies at Temple University to join other college students who were traveling to the south to advocate for civil rights there. Prathia was active in the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). She eventually became one its first women field leaders in southwest Georgia. Prathia would later go on to become a preacher, and pastor. After her father’s death, Prathia accepted the call of Mount Sharon Baptist Church in Philadelphia to come and pastor the church her father once pastored. Prathia later enrolled at Princeton Theological Seminary and received a Ph.D in ethics. Prathia Hall died on August 12, 2002, following a long illness.

Of Prathia Hill, Dr. King is quoted as saying, “Prathia Hall is the one platform speaker I would prefer not to follow”.

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1963 Walk To Freedom: 1st Time “I Have A Dream Speech” Shared By MLK

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(11886) Civil Rights, Marches, "Walk to Freedom", Detroit, 1963

Left to right: Walter Reuther, Benjamin McFall, James Del Rio, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rev. C.L. Franklin. Behind Franklin is Detroit Mayor Jerome Cavanagh.

Two months before the “March On Washington” was held, there was The “Walk To Freedom”  on June 23, 1963.  Held in Detroit, it was the largest ever civil rights demonstration in the country at the time. It was estimated that approximately 125,000 people marched down Woodward Avenue in Detroit.

It was also the first time that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous, “I Have A Dream Speech”.  National and state leaders who marched along with Reverend King included United Auto Workers president Walter Reuther, former Michigan governor John B. Swainson, and Detroit mayor Jerome Cavanagh.

The march ended at Cobo Hall where Dr. King was cheered by thousands of supporters when he stated that segregation needed to end.  Dr. King believed that it was the responsibility of African Americans to take part in peaceful demonstrations like the Walk to Freedom, which he called, “one of the most wonderful things that has happened in America.”

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1963 Children’s March: Would You Have Allowed Your Children To Participate?

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On May 2, 1963 nearly a thousand elementary, middle and high school and college students in Birmingham, Alabama participated in The Children’s Crusade. SCLC staff member James Bevel proposed recruiting local students, arguing that while many adults may be reluctant to participate in demonstrations, for fear of losing their jobs, their children had less to lose. King initially had reservations, but after deliberation he agreed, On May 2, more than a thousand black students skipped their classes and gathered at Sixth Street Baptist Church. As they approached police lines, hundreds were arrested and carried off to jail.

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When hundreds more youth gathered the next day, commissioner Bull Connor directed the police and fire departments to use force to halt the demonstration. Images of children being blasted by high-pressure fire hoses, clubbed by police officers, and attacked by police dogs appeared on television and in newspapers and triggered outrage throughout the world. The Birmingham campaign ended on May 10 when the SCLC and local officials reached an agreement in which the city promised to desegregate downtown stores and release all protestors from jail if the SCLC would end the boycotts and demonstrations. While he faced criticism for exposing children to violence—most notably from Malcolm X, who said that “real men don’t put their children on the firing line”— King maintained that the demonstrations allowed children to develop “a sense of their own stake in freedom”

Black Mail Readers:  Would you have allowed your children to participate in march?  Why or Why Not?

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Martin Luther King Jr: Did You Know About His Name Change?

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... martin luther king sr martin luther king jr martin luther king iii
Martin Luther King, Sr., Martin Luther King, Jr., Martin Luther King, III

Martin Luther King Jr’s  legal name at birth was Michael King, Jr.  He was named after his father, Michael King, Sr.  Michael King, Sr. decided to change names in 1934 after attending a religious conference in Germany.  He changed both of their names to Martin Luther because of the admiration he developed for the German religious reformer, Martin Luther.

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