Birmingham's 50th Anniversary of Civil Rights is going global.
The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) is sponsoring a worldwide celebration of Martin Luther King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" on April 16. The library is encouraging people to do public readings of the famous letter, which MLK began writing on April 16, 1963.
BPL wants people and businesses to plan their own event. All they ask is that the letter be read out loud. Participants can read the entire letter or portions of the letter.
"If it's two people in an office, that's great. If it's hundreds of people in a park, that's great too," says Jim Baggett, head of the department of archives and manuscripts at the Birmingham Public Library, said.
"It's going to be done at schools, libraries, museums, coffee shops, bookstores, parks, churches, synagogues, street corners, anywhere people want to do this," Baggett says.
Dozens of participants on four continents of the globe have already registered their location. The library hopes to add hundreds of locations by the time of the event and will be updating the location list daily on a special web page.
"The letter from the Birmingham jail is one of the most significant, most powerful, most important documents in American history," Baggett says.
While Birmingham celebrates the 50th Anniversary of Civil Rights, the library hopes this event can introduce the letter to people who may not have read it before and reintroduce it to people who are familiar with it.
"It's just a remarkable, brilliant document and it's something that people all over the world can share and draw meaning from," Baggett says.
For more information on the BPL event please visit http://www.bplonline.org/programs/1963/Letter.aspx.
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