Canisius to Commemorate MLK Jr's Letter from Birmingham Jail

BUFFALO, NY ― The Canisius College Andrew L. Bouwhuis, S.J., Library will host a public reading of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail on Tuesday, April 16 at 2 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Canisius was invited by Archivist Jim Baggett of the Birmingham, AL Public Library to join participants worldwide to mark the 50th Anniversary of the day that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. began writing his powerful letter. King’s correspondence, first published in the New York Times Magazine, was in response to a critical statement by eight white Alabama clergymen to Civil Rights demonstrations in Birmingham.

Dr. King wrote his letter, also known as “The Negro is Your Brother,” while jailed after his arrest in a non-violent protest organized by the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

The Canisius library program will begin with a reading of the clergymen statement followed by King’s letter. Participants will be asked to read aloud a few paragraphs from Dr. King’s letter. A conversation about the documents will follow the reading. Administrators, faculty, staff and students are encouraged to attend and participate, especially those who are studying the letter in classes. Among those scheduled to read are members of the Canisius community who participated in the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, and those individuals whose lives and careers were influenced by Dr. King and his legacy.

For more information about the year-long 1963 Year of Birmingham commemoration visit

Limited copies of Letter from Birmingham Jail and Letter from the Eight White Clergymen will be available to share during the reading. Letter from Birmingham Jail is available in Martin Luther King Jr.’s book, Why We Can’t Wait.

For more information, contact Kathleen DeLaney, archivist, at (716) 888-8421 or send an e-mail to

Canisius is one of 8 Jesuit universities in the nation and the premier private university in Western New York.