Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Letter from Birmingham Jail: A Worldwide Celebration is a Success

Today’s reading of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s "Letter From Birmingham Jail began with Birmingham Mayor William A. Bell, Sr. reading to an audience at the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) and U.S. Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell reading from the House floor in Washington, D.C. The public readings were part of BPL’s worldwide celebration lauding the 50th anniversary of King’s epistle.

Mayor Bell and Congresswoman Sewell's readings were in response to the Birmingham Public Library's invitation for other groups around the globe including libraries, museums, schools, universities, churches, synagogues, temples, places where people work, public parks, bookstores, street corners, coffee shops—and anywhere that people wanted to participate—to organize planned readings of the letter. Responses poured in from 7 continents and more that 35 states with a total of more than 250 locations worldwide. The entire list of participants is available online.

Sewell and Bell agreed that the letter is a powerful reminder of how far this nation has come and that work remains to be done. Before beginning his reading at the BPL's main library this morning at 7:30 a.m. (CST), Bell noted that he first read a copy of the letter when he was a student at John Carroll High School. He said, "King's letter has a universal message that carried an important message then and today. It represents the hopes and dreams that every parent has for their children." Bell's comments were made during a networking event held at the library and hosted by the Brock School of Business at Samford University.

At 9 a.m. (EST), Sewell read an excerpt on the floor of the House of Representatives. "It is my humble honor to join with the Birmingham Public Library and so many voices around the world in reading an excerpt from Dr. King's letter on the floor of the House of Representatives," said Sewell. "We must continue to fight injustice and discrimination anywhere and everywhere it exists and works to ensure equality for all Americans."

Photographs and videos taken by participants today will be added to Birmingham Public Library's Pinterest Board, "Letter From Birmingham Jail: A Worldwide Celebration."

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