Letter from Birmingham City Jail is the next to last book published by the Limited Editions Club (LEC), book #588 (hopefully, someday, more will follow). As stated in the LEC prospectus for this publication, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote this, one of America’s most important and eloquent documents, from the misery and privation of his Birmingham jail cell. The letter was originally written on April 16, 1963. King had been arrested for his part in a non-violent protest against racial segregation by both Birmingham’s city government as well as downtown retailers.
King famously wrote:
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly…”
“One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”
“Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider…”
“Justice too long delayed is justice denied.” (quoting William Gladstone)
The full text of the letter can be read here.
Dr. Faith Ringgold (b.1930) created eight serigraphs for this edition and wrote the introduction. She is best known for her painted story quilts. She was born and raised in Harlem. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art, among others.
Dr. C.T. Vivian (b.1924), who wrote the afterword, was one of King’s dearest friends. As stated by LEC, Vivian “…for years marched and worked with Dr. King, suffering with him the beatings and tragedies, working with him to achieve the triumphs, has dedicated his life to carrying forward the dream.”
About the Edition
- Published in 2008
- 11.5″ x 14.5″
- Eight Serigraphs and Introduction by Dr. Faith Ringgold
- Afterword by Dr. C.T. Vivian
- Designed, set in Monotype Garamond, printed letterpress on lush, handmade paper by Michael and Winifred Bixler at their press in Skaneateles, New York
- Serigraph prints were printed by Curlee Raven Holton
- Bound by hand at Jovonis Bookbindery in Massachusetts
- Rough-hewn red fabric covers both the book and its suede lined box
- Limited to 420 copies, each signed by Ringgold