Today marks the 55th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” written April 16, 1963. The letter outlined Dr. King’s response to clergymen across the country who had condemned his protesting actions as “unwise and untimely.” Dr. King wrote, “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.”
This letter was one of the defining moments of the Birmingham Campaign, a peaceful and influential movement out of Birmingham, Alabama with the intention of desegregating the city.
Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) recently wrote the book “Bending Towards Justice: The Birmingham Church Bombing that Changed the Course of Civil Rights,” covering the history of another defining moment of those Alabama protests, the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, which occurred just months later on September 15, 1963. Jones, a Birmingham native, helped to prosecute and jail the racist criminals who perpetrated the bombing after decades of injustice allowed the perpetrators to walk free.
Jones spoke to Bold TV about his motivations in writing the book.
“It’s a story of not just the movement and what all was happening, but it’s a story also of how we’ve changed as a people,” he said.
Birmingham was a pivotal moment in American history.
“When these kids died as a result of a Klan bombing, the shock waves reverberated around the world and I think it just woke the conscience — not just the legal aspects of segregation — it woke the conscience of America,” Jones said. “It certainly woke the conscience of a Congress and of a president who then started pushing for the Civil Rights Law that ultimately got enacted in 1964, and the voting rights act that ultimately got enacted in 1965.”
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