MLK: Hero For Me; Just Like Gandhi and the Guy They Both Read: Henry David Thoreau

It’s About Civil Disobedience AGAINST the State. Not cozying up to its managers, to ask for favors—like a good nigger.

And thus, virtually every single thing you heard all damn day, like you hear every danm year, is all about professional racists snake-oil pretending they’re not.

To my mind, nobody who hasn’t read MLK’s Letter From Birmingham Jail is really qualified to speak to what he was really about in the way back. I make it a point to read it every single Martin Luther King Day, and have been doing so for about 15 years.

You’re welcome to listen to all the professional racists who have never read it.

16 April 1963

My Dear Fellow Clergymen:

While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities “unwise and untimely.” Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.

Read the whole thing and do it every single year, and thank me for a good steer.


  1. Tim Maitski on January 20, 2015 at 05:00

    I’ve read that letter several times over the years. It is one of my favorites too.

    The thing that rings so true to me is his huge disappointment with the white moderates always telling him to wait for a better time. I felt that way recently when so many of the new Tea Party Congressmen caved and voted for John Boehner. That act confirms what you have been saying about the uselessness of thinking that your vote actually makes a difference.

  2. Matt on January 20, 2015 at 11:44

    “Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”
    This is the 2nd year I’ve read it, at your urging. So, thanks. Starting with this line and extrapolating outward from there is a good exercise that can keep the mind busy for a while.

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