October 30th, 1967

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rev. Ralph Abernathy Jailed in Birmingham

In April 1963, a series of civil rights protests occurred in Birmingham, Alabama. These protests, which challenged segregation in Birmingham's public accommodations, were met with a violent response from pro-segregation whites and law enforcement officers and were led by the city's notorious public safety commissioner Bull Connor. In addition to violence, pro-segregationist officials used the legal system to suppress the protests.

On April 10, 1963, a state judge granted an injunction requested by city officials, which banned all anti-segregation protest activity in the city of Birmingham. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rev. Ralph Abernathy chose to lead a march in defiance of the injunction and were arrested on April 12, 1963. Dr. King spent eight days in jail before being released on bail. During his 1963 jail stay, he wrote his “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” which attracted worldwide attention.

Although Dr. King and Rev. Abernathy were released on bail, they still faced criminal charges for protesting. On April 26, 1963, they were convicted of contempt of court. Dr. King and Rev. Abernathy appealed their convictions, even seeking review from the United States Supreme Court, but the convictions were upheld.

On October 30, 1967, Dr. King and Rev. Abernathy returned to Birmingham to serve five-day jail sentences for leading demonstrations in 1963 in defiance of a court order. Dozens of supporters protested outside of Birmingham's jail for the duration of their incarceration.