The Letter from Birmingham Jail: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Tradition of Nonviolence

Recreation of Martin Luther King's Cell in Birmingham Jail - National Civil Rights Museum (Adam Jones, PhD)Recreation of Martin Luther King's Cell in Birmingham Jail - National Civil Rights Museum (Adam Jones, PhD) In April of 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested for participating in a series of demonstrations against racism and segregation in Birmingham, Alabama. At the time of his arrest, King had come under criticism for focusing his efforts on fighting racial inequality in the streets rather than in the courts. During this time, King wrote a letter defending the marches and sit-ins as a means to fight racism and injustice.

In his “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” King argued that not only was civil disobedience justified in challenging unjust laws, but that resistance to injustice was a moral obligation deeply rooted in Western traditions. Considered one of the most important documents in American history, the “Letter from Birmingham Jail” not only expresses King’s personal articulation of non-violence as a means to resist unjust laws, but also the spirit of opposition to injustice that is part of the American progressive tradition.

The Letter from Birmingham Jail: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Tradition of Nonviolence

Attend a Webinar on African American Studies

Illustration from "Twelve Years A Slave" (Afro-Americana Imprints)Illustration from "Twelve Years A Slave" (Afro-Americana Imprints) Readex will offer a live webinar on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, for librarians, faculty and students who have an interest in African American studies.

This in-depth session will explore the content, features and functionality of three acclaimed Archive of Americana collections:

Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia
African American Newspapers, 1827-1998
African American Periodicals, 1825-1995

Attend a Webinar on African American Studies

African American Print Culture: A Conversation with James Danky

Last month Kim Gallon, founder and director of the Black Press Research Collective (BPRC) and assistant professor of history at Muhlenberg College, interviewed James Danky, editor of African-American Newspapers and Periodicals: A National Bibliography and cofounder of the Center for the History of Print Culture.

Among the topics discussed in their half-hour conversation are the alternative press; the research value of African American serials; the University of Wisconsin’s collection of black newspapers and periodicals; Danky’s effort to create a national bibliography; its transformation of research capabilities in African American studies and related fields; the two Readex digital collections based upon Danky’s work; and many others.

Today more than 200 academic institutions of every type and size are providing access to either African American Newspapers, 1827-1998, or African American Periodicals, 1825-1995, or both. To request a trial for your institution, please contact readexmarketing[at]readex[dot]com.

African American Print Culture: A Conversation with James Danky

“Stings for Our Enemies—Honey for Our Friends”: The Washington Bee (D.C.)

A weekly African American newspaper, the Washington Bee was often the boldest of the several dozen papers published in the District of Columbia in the decades before and after the turn of the 20th century. The Bee’s slogan was “Stings for Our Enemies—Honey for Our Friends.”

Throughout its nearly 40 years in publication, it was edited by African-American lawyer-journalist William Calvin Chase. Despite the Bee’s alignment with Republican Party views, Chase did not hesitate to criticize GOP leaders when he thought they were on the wrong side of an issue. Among the Bee’s daring editorial stands was Chase’s criticism of Booker T. Washington’s conservative positions on black racial progress.

The Bee focused much of its editorial coverage on the activities of the city’s African Americans, and its society page paid special attention to events at local black churches. The paper also covered national issues using its own correspondents as well as wire services. Financial troubles brought an end to the paper in 1922, a year after Chase’s death.

African American Newspapers, 1827-1998, features 1,926 issues of the Bee published between 1882 and 1922. These digitized issues may be browsed by way of the “Newspaper Titles” tab, and searches can be restricted to this newspaper by limiting results to the Washington Bee.


For more information about this online resource, or to arrange a trial at your institution, please contact readexmarketing[at]readex[dot]com.

“Stings for Our Enemies—Honey for Our Friends”: The Washington Bee (D.C.)

The first illustrated African American newspaper: The Indianapolis Freeman

Called “the Harper’s Weekly of the Black Press” by historian Irving Garland Penn, the Freeman was the first illustrated African-American newspaper. It was founded in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1888 by Edward C. Cooper. Subsidized by the Republican Party for some of its existence, the Freeman enjoyed large circulation because of the variety and scope of its news coverage and its attention to black culture.

When its correspondents weren’t covering issues and events of interest to African Americans across the nation, the Freeman focused on the actions of past black figures. Many (including two that follow) were illustrated on the Freeman’s front pages in the late 19th-century. Political cartoons and photographs appeared in later years.

Edward Marshall, a favorite tenor in New York, is featured on the front page of the Freeman, November 30, 1889.

Source: African American Newspapers, 1827-1998Source: African American Newspapers, 1827-1998

The Hon. John M. Langston, Congressman-elect from the Fourth District of Virginia, is featured on the front page of the Freeman, April 6, 1889.

Source: African American Newspapers, 1827-1998Source: African American Newspapers, 1827-1998

The first illustrated African American newspaper: The Indianapolis Freeman

Researching the March on Washington using African American newspapers and periodicals

This month we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington during which Martin Luther King, Jr. made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Calling for an end to racism, the speech was a defining moment in the American Civil Rights Movement. With reference to the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, King recounted the travails of African Americans over the previous 100 years as they struggled against bigotry and segregation. In it King also provided a vision of a future free of intolerance where people would be judged not by the “color of their skin,” but by the “content of their character.”

 

Today, digital resources provide researchers the opportunity to study the March on Washington as it occurred and the historical scope of its impact on modern times. Resources such as Readex’s African American Newspapers and African American Periodicals provide not only contemporary articles about the 1963 event, but also articles assessing the legacy of King’s speech, written a generation later. Two examples of each are provided below: 

Researching the March on Washington using African American newspapers and periodicals

Just published — The Readex Report: April 2013

In this issue: Enlightening students with colonial-era texts; praise-inspired poetry trumps hymns in eighteenth-century pews; a nineteenth-century black newspaper editor questions the finer points of freedom; and rival dictionaries yield a clear victor after a decade-long duel. 

Travel to New Worlds: Reconceptualizing Research and Early America with Early American Imprints

By Kelly Wisecup, Assistant Professor, Department of English, University of North Texas

Just published — The Readex Report: April 2013

Just published — The Readex Report: February 2013

In this issue: A robust African American resource populated by patrons; the humanity and heartache of an unsung Pulitzer Prize winner; using technology and newfound texts to flesh out classic reference works; and a cross-dressing female marine anchors a 19th-century bestseller.

A Patron-Grown Reference Tool: The Notable Kentucky African Americans Database

By Reinette F. Jones, Librarian, University of Kentucky

The Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (NKAA) is a continuously updated reference tool for studying African Americans in and from Kentucky from the 1700s to the present day. The database is freely available online, and receives well over 100,000 hits each year. It was created by librarians Rob Aken and Reinette Jones, both at the University of Kentucky Libraries. Entries focus on relevant people, places, events, or activities. (read article)

Just published — The Readex Report: February 2013

"Native Son" Serialized with Illustrations in African American Newspapers during 1942

One of the most significant pieces of African American literature, “Native Son,” was serialized in the Kansas Plaindealer, Arkansas Free Press and other African American newspapers in 1941-42. These newspaper re-printings of Richard Wright’s novel featured powerful drawings by pioneering African American cartoonist Oliver Harrington. Revisit Wright’s groundbreaking work about institutional racism and its impact on the individual in the illustrated pages of the Plaindealer, as found in America’s Historical Newspapers.

Plaindealer, 19 Dec. 1941Plaindealer, 19 Dec. 1941

Plaindealer, 16 Jan. 1942Plaindealer, 16 Jan. 1942

Plaindealer, 23 Jan. 1942Plaindealer, 23 Jan. 1942

"Native Son" Serialized with Illustrations in African American Newspapers during 1942

Just published — The Readex Report: November 2012

In this issue: Using colonial American texts to challenge and captivate students; the triumphs and tragedy of a black cycling superstar; fleshing out the lives of early American felons; and moneymaking mummies of the nineteenth century.

Student Scholars: Using Early American Imprints to Introduce Students to the Era and to the Field 

By Julie R. Voss, Assistant Professor of English, Coordinator of American Studies Program, Lenoir-Rhyne University 

In the English program in which I teach, majors are required to take one seminar in American literature before the Civil War, one option of which is Colonial American Literature. This course is not generally high on their list of priorities, and students grumble that the “early stuff” is inaccessible and boring—and, despite my love of the time period, I can see that Mary Rowlandson cannot quite compete, for sheer enjoyment, with writers they encounter elsewhere. However, I often find that what hooks students into an (occasionally begrudging) interest in colonial texts is the sense of the real people behind the words. (read article)

Just published — The Readex Report: November 2012

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