"Freedom is never voluntarily given by the
oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed."
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Open letter to clergymen,
“Letter from Birmingham Jail,” Why We Can’t Wait
Apr. 16, 1963
Martin Luther King, Jr.
American clergyman and
civil-rights leader, born in Atlanta, GA. King graduated from Morehouse
College in 1948, Crozer Theological Seminary in 1951 and received his
doctorate from Boston University in 1955. The son of a pastor himself, King
became the minister of the Dexter Ave. Baptist Church in Montgomery, AL. in
1954. He led the black boycott of segregated city buses and in 1956 gained a
major victory and prestige as a civil-rights leader when the buses began to
run without segregation. King organized the Southern Christian Leadership
Conference (SCLC), first in the South and later nationwide. His philosophy
of nonviolent resistance led to his arrest on numerous occasions in the
1950s and 60s. His campaigns had mixed success, but the protest he led in
Birmingham, AL, in 1963 brought him worldwide attention. He spearheaded the
1963, March on Washington, which brought together more than 200,000 people.
In 1964 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. His interests, however,
widened from civil rights to include concern over the Vietnam War and a
deeper concern over poverty. On April 4, 1968, he was shot and killed while
standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel. Since 1991, the motel has
become a civil-rights museum.