This week, U.S. Senator Doug Jones, D-Alabama, will lead a bipartisan commemorative reading of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 Letter from Birmingham Jail in the U.S. Senate chamber to honor King’s legacy and celebrate the anniversary of the letter being written.
King wrote the letter from his cell at the Birmingham Jail in April 1963, where he and other protestors were detained after leading several nonviolent protests and boycotts in the city to put pressure on businesses to end discriminatory hiring practices. The letter was a response to an open letter written by eight White clergymen from Alabama who asked King to stop his desegregation efforts, citing his protests as “unwise and untimely.”
King rejected the claim that African-Americans should be patient in the struggle to end oppression and injustices created by Jim Crow laws. It was this letter where he famously responded to those criticisms by stating, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Alongside Jones during the reading will be Senators Lamar Alexander, D-Tennessee; Ted Cruz, R-Texas; Kamala Harris, D-California; Tim Kaine, D-Virginia; and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.