By Opio Sokoni, Georgia Star Reporter
Dr. King’s letter from the Birmingham jail is pages long. Many think it is a short letter. It is said that he wrote it in the margins of a newspaper. That paper published a letter from local clergy admonishing him for the aggressive actions he was taking to end racial segregation.
This masterful letter is full of quotes that we often hear during Dr. King Holiday events, such as, “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” or “One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.” The letter’s most recognizable quote may be, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
These are incredible quotes. However, some of us who have really dug into this letter wish that more people knew about the end of it. It seems to give a picture of how personable, how smart, how committed and how spiritual Dr. King was. I hope my writing here is brief in admiring what may be the most interesting part of this world famous letter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Happy King Day of Service to you.
– Opio Sokoni, is a former President of Jacksonville’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference
End of Dr. King’s Birmingham Jail Letter
Never before have I written so long a letter. I’m afraid it is much too long to take your precious time. I can assure you that it would have been much shorter if I had been writing from a comfortable desk, but what else can one do when he is alone in a narrow jail cell, other than write long letters, think long thoughts and pray long prayers?
If I have said anything in this letter that overstates the truth and indicates an unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me. If I have said anything that understates the truth and indicates my having the patience that allows me to settle for anything less than brotherhood, I beg God to forgive me.
I hope this letter finds you strong in the faith. I also hope that circumstances will soon make it possible for me to meet each of you, not as an integrationist or a civil-rights leader but as a fellow clergyman and a Christian brother. Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away, and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our feardrenched communities, and in some, not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.
Yours for the cause of Peace and Brotherhood,
Martin Luther King, Jr.