I say this every year, but I’ll say it again: if you’re in the Philadelphia area this Martin Luther King Day weekend, come out to Eastern State Penitentiary for a reading and discussion of the Letter from Birmingham Jail.
This year we’ve got an all-star lineup of four historians from Temple University who each bring a unique perspective to the letter. Unfortunately, for each reading/discussion session you’ll only hear from one of us, but that’s part of the excitement of it, right? You don’t know who you’ll get!
Eastern State is an astonishing historic site, and the team there is doing great work (winning lots of awards!) in interpreting it for the public and raising questions that are directly relevant to today.
And that’s what the Letter from Birmingham Jail program is all about. It is participatory and relevant. Come prepared to offer your thoughts about how this letter matters now. If Dr. King was writing a letter from jail today, what would he say? If you wrote a letter, what would you say?
This isn’t an academic discussion about the past. It’s a morally charged exploration about what we can do now. Many people who have attended the event in the past have said they left feeling energized and inspired. And, the historian in me feels compelled to say, you’ll also learn something about the past!