May 19 - 1963 - "Letter From Birmingham Jail" is First Published
Martin Luther King, Jr. was in the City Jail in Birmingham, Alabama during the Birmingham Campaign to fight segregation because he violated a court injunction brought by Director of Public Safety Eugene "Bull" Connor. While in jail, he saw an open letter in a newspaper from eight clergymembers urging leaders of the Civil Rights Movement to seek to end segregation in the courts and through negotiation. So King wrote a letter back, describing not only why resistance had to happen but also the full injustice of segregation. By reflecting on notable theologians and the nature of unjust laws, King laid out a case for being an extremist in the cause of justice. He also promised that the South would remember its real heroes in the future. In that respect, the future cam quickly. King's initial letter, written in the margins of newspapers and on multiple notepads, was then assembled by his associates. Initially, the New York Times Magazine sought to publish the finished version, but then backed out. The first publication would be in excerpts and without permission by the New York Post Sunday Magazine. At that point, it was well on its way to becoming one of King's most famous works.