Local Pastors Respond to MLK’s 1963 Letter from a Birmingham Jail

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Birmingham, Alabama Civil Rights Movement.  The City of Birmingham has launched its 50 Years Forward campaign to commemorate this occasion with events in various venues throughout the year.  On April 16, 2013 at 6:30 p.m. Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, most known for the 1963 bombing of the church that took the lives of four little girls, will host “Letter from the Birmingham Jail and the Birmingham Clergy.”  This event will include an interracial panel of clergy members who will respond to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 Letter from a Birmingham Jail along with guest panelist, Rev. Bernice King, youngest daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King.

Jonathan Bass, history professor at Samford University, will explain the significance of Dr. King’s letter and the current pastors of the 7 churches to which King addressed the original letter, will read excerpts of the letter and participate in the panel discussion.

“This is definitely going to be a very historic and momentous occasion.  Dr. King’s letter was one of his most compelling works and to have an interracial panel of pastors respond 50 years later helps us see how far we’ve come as a people and more importantly, as a nation,” says Rev. Arthur Price, Jr., pastor of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.

Dr. King’s letter, written from a jail cell after a non-violent protest, was in response to a letter published in a local Birmingham paper by eight concerned white pastors who felt it was not an appropriate time for King and area activists to go against the status quo of that time. The current pastors of these eight churches will be present and will share how they would respond to King’s letter had it been written recently.  This event is free and open to the public.


1963: Year of Change from 50_Years_Forward on Vimeo.

About Sixteenth Street Baptist Church

Sixteenth Street Baptist Church was the chosen venue for the organization of mass meetings and demonstrations during the turbulent 1960s in Birmingham, Alabama.  On September 15, 1963 the church was bombed, killing four young girls, Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley and Carole Robertson  This act of terrorism shocked the world and galvanized the American Civil Rights Movement.  Today Sixteenth Street, a vibrant and thriving ministry, continues to tell its story of redemption, forgiveness and hope to thousands of visitors worldwide.  For more information about the church and/or tour schedules, go to www.16thstreetbaptist.org or call (205) 251-9402.

To find out more about this and other events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham, visit www.50yearsforward.com

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