April 16th, the year is 1963. Birmingham, Alabama, has had a spring of nonviolent protests known as the Birmingham Campaign, seeking to draw attention to the segregation against blacks by the city government and downtown retailers. The organizers longed to create a nonviolent tension so severe that the powers that be would be forced to address the rampant racism head on. Recently arrested was Martin Luther King, Jr.... It is there in that jail cell that he writes this letter; on the margins of a newspaper he pens this defense of nonviolence against segregation.
"I have a dream today." On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King spoke these words as he addressed a crowd of more than 200,000 civil rights protesters gathered at The Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. Two months earlier, President John Kennedy had sent a civil rights bill to Congress, but it was struck down. Although Kennedy was concerned about the possibility of widespread violence during this protest, he realized he was powerless to stop it and embraced the movement instead.
"Fills My Heart"
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s account of the first successful large-scale application of nonviolent resistance in America is comprehensive, revelatory, and intimate. King described his book as "the chronicle of 50,000 Negroes who took to heart the principles of nonviolence, who learned to fight for their rights with the weapon of love, and who, in the process, acquired a new estimate of their own human worth."