Message from the ministers
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Jan 22, 2013 | 1764 views |  0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
On Jan. 14, 1963, Gov. George Wallace delivered his white supremacy speech, written by Ku Klux Klan leader Asa Carter. It is often forgotten that 11 clergy responded on Jan. 16. This has been called “The White Ministers’ Law and Order Statement.” It stated that laws desegregating schools must be obeyed. “We feel that inflammatory and rebellious statements can lead only to violence, discord, confusion and disgrace for our beloved state ... We respectfully urge those who strongly oppose desegregation to pursue their convictions in the courts, and in the meantime peacefully to abide by the decisions of those same courts.”

The statement included seven affirmations. The seventh was, “That every human being is created in the image of God and is entitled to respect as a fellow human being with all basic rights, privileges, and responsibilities which belong to humanity.”

Eight of these clergy were later addressed in Martin Luther King’s powerful Letter from Birmingham Jail, but there is no evidence he was aware of this Jan. 16 letter, which brought threats and hate mail and nationally brought many letters of support and praise.

King’s letter was rather a response to their April 12 statement asking Birmingham citizens to refrain from demonstrations in light of the current elections in Birmingham. “In Birmingham recent public events have given indication that we all have opportunity for a new constructive and realistic approach to racial problems.” This was known as the White Ministers’ Good Friday Statement.

The Rev. Doug Carpenter
Birmingham
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