The Local Voice

1/19: Celebrating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


In 2017, Square Books honored the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a community reading of “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” The letter, composed while King was in jail on April 16, 1963, came as a forceful theological and humane response to a group of Alabama clergy members who had openly criticized King for a perceived impatience during a crucial early period of the Civil Rights Movement. For the reading, more than thirty local community members read a paragraph from the letter, including former University of Mississippi Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter and Chancellor Emeritus Robert Khayat, former Winter Institute Director Susan Glisson, UM Athletic Director Ross Bjork, Second Baptist Church Pastor Andrew Robinson, author Alysia Steele, and Mayor Robyn Tannehill, among others. It was a moving and unifying reading resulting in a sense of empowerment and solidarity. All in attendance were inspired and we resolved to repeat the reading every year.

The holiday celebrating the life of Dr. King is a time not only to reflect on the past, but also to examine on our lives today as well as to plan for the better future he envisioned. This year, the event organizers are encouraging the women of our community to take the lead in performing the reading. Everyone is invited to attend Saturday, January 19 at 5 pm at Off Square Books, 129 Courthouse Square.

The letter is included in Reverend King’s book, Why We Can’t Wait. According to Square Books’ Richard Howorth, “King began writing the letter in the margins of a newspaper in which the ministers’ letter had appeared, and it is considered to be one of the great literary documents of American history. We are excited to help the community remember and celebrate the life of this great man.” King was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace the following year, 1964.

To sign up to read or for further information, contact Sarah Baker at Square Books by calling 662-236-2262 or emailing

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