16 April 1963
My Dear Fellow Clergymen:
While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities “unwise and untimely.” Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.
Thus begins Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” On April 16, 2013, fifty years after its authorship, thousands around the world participated in an international commemoration of the letter. Sponsored by Birmingham Public Library, the event included public readings in over two hundred libraries, museums, parks, churches, etc., around the world. At the College of Charleston, the reading took place at Cougar Mall in front of a crowd of about a hundred and fifty. For more information about the international event as a whole, please visit the Birmingham Public Library’s blog.