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John Paul Stevens

King's Easter epistle on civil disobedience

King's Easter epistle on civil disobedience

This year is the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s decision to violate an injunction forbidding him to pray, sing or march in public in Birmingham, Ala. On Good Friday 1963 (which fell on April 12 that year), King led a march from the 16th Street Baptist Church (where four black children would be killed in a bombing five months later), heading toward City Hall. He was almost immediately arrested, charged with violating a court order and taken to the Birmingham jail.

As he sat in jail on Easter Sunday and the days that followed, he wrote his "Letter From Birmingham Jail" to a group of moderate white clergymen who had issued a "call to unity" to...

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