Read With Me: The MLK Project

Join Art Sanctuary and others from across our region in reading and discussing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s brilliant ”Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”

Written in 1963, and often labeled the most important document of the civil rights era, the letter which emphasizes the inter-connection of social ills and their healing, is also a rallying call to action in the time of violent racial tension and division, and remains timely.

Here’s how you can join us:

  1. Read the letter.
  2. Find 1-3 young people and read the letter with them; or if you are under 18 find a group of 2-3 friends and read the letter as a group. When you’re done, discuss some of the themes and questions we have provided for you.
  3. When you’re done discussing–create something! Write a letter, a song, a poem, or create some other form of art based on what you’ve read and discussed.
  4. Tell us about it. Come back to our website and tell us what happened; upload a video of you reading your letter or performing  your poem, or take a picture of the artwork, or write a blog about your experience!
  5. Kick-off: MLK Day January 21, 2013.
Join us. Join with those around you. We’re in this together!
Read an excerpt of the letter here.
Read an abridged version of the letter here.
Read suggested writing prompts here.
Read suggested discussion questions here.
Friend of Art Sanctuary Louis A Davis, Jr. delivers a powerful message as he re-imagines King’s words concerning present-day youth conflict in Philadelphia:

“‘We haven’t learned to be disagreeable without being violently disagreeable’
It needs to be recognized that our youth are under the constant influence of propaganda. This dissemination of ideas and practices are both positive and negative in regard to what they propagate. For the most part our youths have internalized those ideas and practices that continue the social controls that must be, in order to maintain a safe and sane society. However, there has been a small segment that has internalized ideas and practices that run contrary to the well-being of our culture… At the core of these ideas are a lack of respect and sanctity for human life and the well-being of the community, with selfishness as the driving force. How could it not be, given they come from the boasts of criminals and misguided wannabes. With the economy in shambles and urban joblessness continually at an alarmingly high rate, too many of our youths are turning to the streets to make a name and a living. As a result, there has been a deluge of youthful imprisonment and youths killing youths!”

Read the full letter here.

Friend of Art Sanctuary Danielle Woelpper responds to MLK’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail by answering suggested writing prompt 4:

“Justice is a patriotic word. It is used too freely sometimes. It has been redefined though it can only be defined in one way. Justice is doing what is right…”

Read the full response here.