In 2017, Square Books honored the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a community reading of "Letter from Birmingham Jail." The letter, composed while King was in jail on April 16, 1963, came as a forceful theological and humane response to a group of Alabama clergy members who had openly criticized King for a perceived impatience during a crucial early period of the Civil Rights movement. For the reading, more than thirty community members, including University of Mississippi Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter and Chancellor Emeritus Robert Khayat, former Winter Institute Director Susan Glisson, UM Athletic Director Ross Bjork, 2nd Baptist Church Pastor Andrew Robinson, author Alysia Steele, Mayor Robyn Tannehill, Charles Tucker, Valerie and Chuck Ross, read a paragraph from the letter. It was a moving and unifying reading resulting in a sense of empowerment and solidarity. All in attendance were inspired and we resolved to repeat the reading this year.
Recognizing that the holiday celebrating the life of MLK is not only a time to reflect on the past, but a time to plan and hope for the better future he envisioned, we are encouraging the teens of our community, the embodiment of that future, to take the lead in performing the reading this year. Everyone is encouraged to attend Saturday, January 13th at 5pm at Off Square Books, 129 Courthouse Square.
The letter is included in Reverend King's book, Why We Can't Wait. According to Square Books' Richard Howorth, "King began writing the letter in the margins of a newspaper in which the ministers' letter had appeared, and it is considered to be one of the great literary documents of American history. We are excited to help the community remember and celebrate the life of this great man." King was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace the following year, 1964.
For further information, contact Sam McAlilly at Square Books by calling 662-236-2262 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.