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52 years ago today: My Dear Fellow Clergymen

52 years ago today: My Dear Fellow Clergymen

…. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city’s white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative….

Martin Luther King, Jr.
A Birmingham Jail
April 16, 1963

Read “Letter from A Birmingham Jail” here.


Posted by John B. Chilton


  "MLK mugshot birmingham" by Birmingham AL police dept(Life time: NA) - Original publication: circulated to news media in April 1963. Immediate source: http://photos.nola.com/tpphotos/2013/04/martin_luther_king_mugshot_apr.html. Licensed under PD-US via Wikipedia.
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Cynthia Katsarelis

Oh Rod, that is a long program! Sounds good, but… I note that TEC has organizations, policies, and a variety of bishops speaking out against gun violence and in favor of gun control. Clearly, it is a huge problem, and one that is aberrant in the developed world. However, when we look at the stance of TEC on that issue, we seem to be on the right side of it. The Letter in Birmingham, sadly, had the signatures of two Episcopal bishops.

Rod Gillis

Some things seem never to change. Here is a link to a public radio doc featuring Henry Giroux. One of the things discussed is gun violence in Chicago and the metric comparison with American combat deaths in the wars in the middle east.

http://www.cbc.ca/radio_template_2012/audiopop.html?autoPlay=true&clipIds=2664543092

Cynthia Katsarelis

Thank you, June. It’s been a long time since I read that. At best, the clergy were naive to believe that Birmingham was going to solve the problems locally. Certainly it was short sighted; this was all an effort that lead to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which is much more broad that Birmingham. One could certainly wish that the clergy had had more to say about the brutality of the local police.

This is all a great reminder for today.

June Butler

One of MLK’s best, and still relevant. Here’s the link to the text of the letter from the clergy in Alabama to the “outsiders” leading the demonstrations.

http://www.massresistance.org/docs/gen/09a/mlk_day/statement.html

June Butler

Sorry. Should read: …to the black citizens of Alabama about the “outsiders” leading the demonstrations.

Cynthia Katsarelis

“Unity” has always been a buzz word to robustly rally people around indifference to the suffering and injustice inflicted on others.

Just look at ABC Rowan who coddled human rights abusers and punished TEC in the name of “unity.”

“Unity” almost inevitably demands that suffering people and their allies turn away from their conscience and their sense of the Gospel for the holy purpose of shoring up the unjust status quo.

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