Letter from Birmingham Jail: A Worldwide Celebration


April 16, 2013 - 11:30am


Senate Chambers, Old Capitol Museum

Contact Name: 

Sylvea Hollis

Contact Phone: 


On April 16th, 2013, the 50th anniversary of the day that Martin Luther King, Jr. began writing his Letter from Birmingham Jail, participants from around the world will read King's Letter in celebration. They will host public readings at various locations around the globe: libraries, museums, schools, universities, churches, synagogues, mosques, work places, public parks, bookstores, street corners, coffee shops and anywhere people want to participate.

Come to be a part of the memorial on the University of Iowa's campus. The event runs from 11:30–1:00pm in the Senate Chambers of Old Capitol Museum.

Program Overview:

    I.Introduction: Professor Stephen Vlastos, Department of History

    II.Greeting: Dean Chaden Djalali, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

    III.Reading the Letter: Obermann Graduate Fellows

    IV.A Conversation about the Letter: Professor Michael Hill, Department of English and African American Studies Program

    V.Conclusion: Sylvea Hollis, Department of History

If you are not familiar with The Letter, Dr. King wrote it in response to his frustrations with a group of white ministers in Birmingham who said they supported an eventual end to segregation, but did not want to see immediate change. While seated in his cell, King drafted a response to the ministers in order to explain why African Americans in Birmingham could no longer wait. The Letter was published widely within subsequent months and became a persuasive tool for advocates of the Modern Civil Rigths Movement. On the heel's of King's arrest came the Project C demonstrations in Birmingham which eventually led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

For more on the Birmingham Public Library's program:

For more on the event held on the the University of Iowa's campus:

Visit the Facebook Group: Letter from Birmingham Jail: A Worldwide Celebration

Twitter: #LetterFromBirminghamJail