In 1963, Birmingham, Alabama, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. launched the Civil Rights movement and demonstrated to the world the power of nonviolent direct action. Why We Can't Wait recounts not only the Birmingham campaign, but also examines the history of the civil rights struggle and the tasks that future generations must accomplish to bring about full equality for African Americans. Dr. King's eloquent analysis of these events propelled the Civil Rights movement from lunch counter sit-ins and prayer marches to the forefront of the American consciousness.
Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963
"Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, Wait. But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim…when you see the vast majority of twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she cant go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky…when you take a cross-country drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you…when…your wife and mother are never given the respected title Mrs.…when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of nobodinessthen you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair."
Why We Cant Wait
Martin Luther Kings Classic Exploration of the events and forces behind the Civil Rights Movement
Martin Luther King, Jr., was born January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia, the son and grandson of pastors. He graduated from Morehouse College and Crozer Theological Seminary, becoming at age 25 pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. He subsequently earned his Ph.D. from Boston University. In 1957 he and other civil rights leaders founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization he led until his death. A proponent of Gandhian principles of non-violence, he led many protests and demonstrations for civil rights, including the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 29, 1963, where he delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. Winner of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize, he continued to fight for civil rights, the eradication of poverty and the end of the Vietnam War. He was assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, TN.
Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., is the founder and president of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, an organization committed to fighting for social, political, and economic justice for people of all races, genders, and creeds. A two-time candidate for President of the United States, Rev. Jackson has been called the "conscience of the nation." Rev. Jackson is also renowned for his efforts around the world to spread the promise of democracy, human rights, and peace. Rev. Jackson and his wife, Jacqueline, reside in Chicago and are the proud parents of five children.
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