Blessed Are the Peacemakers: Martin Luther King, Jr., Eight White Religious Leaders, and the "Letter from Birmingham Jail"

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LSU Press, Dec 1, 2001 - History - 344 pages

Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail" is arguably the most important written document of the civil rights protest era and a widely read modern literary classic. Personally addressed to eight white Birmingham clergymen who sought to avoid violence by publicly discouraging King's civil rights demonstrations in Birmingham, the nationally published "Letter" captured the essence of the struggle for racial equality and provided a blistering critique of the gradualist approach to racial justice. It soon became part of American folklore, and the image of King penning his epistle from a prison cell remains among the most moving of the era. Yet as S. Jonathan Bass explains in the first comprehensive history of King's "Letter," this image and the piece's literary appeal conceal a much more complex tale.

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Contents

Introduction
1
Aristocracy of the Damn Fools
9
In the South By and By
28
Turning the Corner
46
Grand Fraternity of the Harassed
70
Eyes on the Press Birmingham and the SCLC
87
The Prison Epistle
110
Gospel of Publicity
131
The Unpardonable Sin
208
Conclusion
224
The White Ministers Law and Order Statement January 161963 An Appeal for Law and Order and Common Sense
233
The White Ministers Good Friday Statement April 121963
235
A Documentary Edition of the Letter from Birmingham Jail
237
The White Ministers AntiViolence Statement September 71963
257
Notes
259
Bibliography
295

Let It Alone
163
This City Isnt Dead Yet
175

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About the author (2001)

S. Jonathan Bass is a professor of history and university historian at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama.

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