The Atlantic

Atlantic Readers Respond to Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘Letter From Birmingham Jail’

In the August 1963 issue, The Atlantic published King’s famous letter under the title “The Negro Is Your Brother.” Readers’ responses were largely positive.
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Letters From the Archives is a series in which we highlight past Atlantic stories and reactions from readers at the time.

On April 12, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. and Ralph Abernathy led a march of some 50 black protestors through Birmingham, Alabama. It was Good Friday. “We want to march for freedom on the day Jesus hung on the cross for freedom,” King said prior to the event. But their march was cut short. King and Abernathy, among many others, were arrested by city police for parading without a permit; the leaders were placed in solitary confinement.

This particular march was. The April 11, 1963, article noted that King—“the behind-the-scenes director of the current movement”—and other SCLC organizers, who were told specifically not to demonstrate, were planning to defy the injunction and march anyway. “This [is] a flagrant denial of our constitutional privileges,” King declared.

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