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Carl Kruse Celebrates MLK Day

Re-reading A Letter From A Birmingham Jail

by Carl Kruse

In what has become now a tradition, ( see Carl Kruse Talks About Martin Luther King ),
every Martin Luther King Day I re-read Kings now classic Letter From A Birmingham Jail,
an essay written as a response to Kings critics who at the time called his activities of
nonviolent resistance against racism untimely and unwise.

His essay is one of best justifications for civil disobedience found outside the writings of
Gandhi.

King also wrote here about the need to act sooner rather than later, what makes for just versus
unfair laws, and ruminates on the connection between all of us in a beautiful discussion of
ethics found in few other modern American letters.

At the time King had urged the local authorities in the American south to obey U.S. federal
anti-discrimination laws but at the same time encouraged violation of local ordinances that
were discriminatory. That is to say, he advocated following some laws but breaking others,
and found a need to reconcile this contradiction and he does so in this letter.

Kings words are dated, perhaps a good sign of how far the U.S. has come in race relations in
the 50 years that he wrote, in spite of any recent indication to the contrary in recent U.S.
politics. If youve never read anything by King, I recommend his letter, if nothing else to get
a sense of the courage and moral fortitude of the man.

Kings original typed version of the letter is provided courtesy of the Stanford University
archives. http://okra.stanford.edu/transcription/document_images/undecided/630416-019.pdf

Happy Martin Luther King Day to everyone in the U.S.A. , well, to everyone everywhere.

Carl Kruse

P.S I hear some celebrate a home-brewed and half-baked Robert E. Lee day in lieu of
MLK day, something I do not understand.