Letter from Birmingham Jail, August 1963 | New NY 23rd

Contributed by Arthur Ahrens of Branchport, NY.

In observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. day, here is an excerpt from his Letter from Birmingham Jail, August 1963:

“I MUST make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens Councillor or the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says, “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically feels that he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time; and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

The letter was written in longhand while he was imprisoned as a participant in nonviolent demonstrations against segregation.

The entire letter can be read here:

Click to access susi-letter-from-birmingham-jail.pdf

It is signed:

Yours for the cause of Peace and Brotherhood,

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