'Letter from Birmingham Jail' Recreated for King Holiday

Jail Cell WaldronPosted: January 16, 2013

Jan. 16, 2013 -- Gannon University students passing through the Waldron Campus Center this week will see a jail cell display, a very prominent and visual reminder of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”

The display is one aspect of Gannon University’s commemoration of the Martin Luther King holiday. The cell was the idea of Dr. Feliesha Shelton-Wheeler, a counselor/psychiatrist in the Gannon University counseling office.

She hopes the faux jail cell will serve as a reminder, to college students and to the younger generation, of the Civil Rights movement and the struggles so many endured on the long and seemingly impossible journey to basic equality. For Shelton-Wheeler, it’s important that those struggles are not forgotten, nor ever taken for granted.

Students who pause for a moment at the jail cell display are greeted with a note: “This cell was constructed to provide you with a simulated experience of what Dr. King may have experienced as he created one of his many profound writings. May you be intrigued by what you see, your imagination stimulated, and your compassion for humanity broadened after reading his words.”

More about Letter from Birmingham Jail 

King on April 16, 1963 wrote the letter from the city jail in Birmingham, Ala. He had been arrested for taking part in the “Birmingham campaign,” led by the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights and by King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The protest was directed at racial segregation by the city government and by downtown retailers.

King’s letter was in response to eight white Alabama clergymen who had claimed that the protesters should pursue their objectives in the court system, not “in the streets.” King also wrote that the nonviolent protest was designed to bring civil rights to the fore.

The letter also included King’s famous statement, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”