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The Champion

January-February 2018 , Page 56 

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Public Defense - Too Many Letters From Jail: Justice Reform as the Civil Rights Movement of Our Time

By Derwyn Bunton

Fifty-five years ago, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. penned his famous Letter From Birmingham Jail. The letter was his defense of using nonviolent direct action to combat segregation, injustice, and racism in the American South. The letter also outlined the evils of the system, crafting a powerful indictment of America’s system of institutionalized oppression. Dr. King highlighted the physical and psychic harm wrought by slavery’s legacy: segregation, Jim Crow, and inequality. He explained the urgency of the fight for civil rights to his critics:

[W]hen you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick, brutalize, and even kill your black brothers and sisters with impunity; when you see the vast majority of your … brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society … then you will understand why we find it difficult to wai

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