And here suddenly the letter lurches forward in time, slides through decades and lands squarely in our laps in 2015. It seems almost as if he isn’t talking about men and women of the past, but about Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Clementa Pinckney, Sharon Coleman-Singleton … the list is so sickeningly long.
He goes on to record injustices in Birmingham: “There can be no gainsaying of the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Its ugly record of police brutality is known in every section of this country. Its unjust treatment of Negros in the courts is a notorious reality. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches than in any other city in this nation.”
Wait. What are we talking about? Birmingham, or Cleveland? Ferguson? Charleston?
“Letter from a Birmingham Jail” has always itched at me, unsettled me. It bothers me because King isn’t writing to political leaders, but religious leaders, people of faith, people who follow the same Jesus as me.