Book Requested By King (while in Birmingham jail)

DSC08642This is a hardcover copy (with dust jacket) of one of the 6 books (2 being dictionaries) that Martin Luther King asked his wife Coretta to bring while he was incarcerated in Birmingham jail in April of 1963.0001676b10dr1

Here is the content of the first letter to his wife Coretta…

“Today I find myself a long way from you and the children…I know this whole experience is very difficult for you to adjust to, especially in your condition of pregnancy, but as I said to you yesterday this is the cross that we must bear for the freedom of our people…I have the faith to believe that this excessive suffering that is now coming to our family will in some little way serve to make Atlanta a better city, Georgia a better state, and America a better county.  Just how I do not yet know, but I have faith to believe it will.  If I am correct then our suffering is not in vain.

….I understand that everybody–white and colored– can have visitors this coming Sunday.  I hope you can find some way to come down…Also ask Wyatt to come.  There are some very urgent things that I will need to talk with him about.  Pleas[e] bring the following books to me: Stride Toward Freedom, Paul Tillich’s Systematic Theology Vol.1 and 2, George Buttrick The Parables of Jesus, E.S. Jones Mahatma Gandhi, Horns and Halo, a Bible, a Dictionary and my reference dictionary called Increasing Your Word Power.  This book is an old book in a red cover and it may be in the den or upstairs in one of my bags.  Also bring the following sermons from my file [:]
“What is Man” “The Three Dimensions” “The Death of Evil”…[He listed fifteen more sermons.]  Also bring a radio.

Give my best regards to all the family.  Please ask them not to worry about me.  I will adjust to whatever comes in terms of pain.  Hope to see you Sunday.  Eternally yours, Martin.”


The Birmingham Campaign began on April 3, 1963, with coordinated marches and sit-ins against racism and racial segregation in Birmingham, Alabama. The non-violent campaign was coordinated by Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights and King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference. On April 10, Circuit Judge W. A. Jenkins issued a blanket injunction against “parading, demonstrating, boycotting, trespassing and picketing”. Leaders of the campaign announced they would disobey the ruling. On April 12, King was roughly arrested with Ralph Abernathy, Fred Shuttlesworth and other marchers—while thousands of African Americans dressed for Good Friday looked on.

King met with unusually harsh conditions in the Birmingham jail. An ally smuggled in a newspaper from April 12, which contained “A Call for Unity”: a statement made by eight white Alabama clergymen against King and his methods. The letter provoked King and he began to write a response on the newspaper itself. King writes in Why We Can’t Wait: “Begun on the margins of the newspaper in which the statement appeared while I was in jail, the letter was continued on scraps of writing paper supplied by a friendly black trusty, and concluded on a pad my attorneys were eventually permitted to leave me.”

The Letter from a Birmingham Jail (also known as “Letter from Birmingham City Jail” and “The Negro Is Your Brother”) is an open letter written on April 16, 1963, by Martin Luther King, Jr. The letter defends the strategy of nonviolent resistance to racism, arguing that people have a moral responsibility to break unjust laws.

The letter was widely published and became an important text for the American civil rights movement of the early 1960s.