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Alumni Travel Reading Lists 2024: Alabama Civil Rights Movement

Civil Rights leaders

Alabama Civil Rights Movement

This guide is designed to provide readings to complement and enrich Penn Alumni's 2024 trip to Alabama to learn about and visit historic Civil Rights Movement sites. For more information about this and other excursions, visit Penn Alumni Travel. Co-sponsored by the Stuart Weitzman School of Design and the Center for the Preservation of Civil Rights Sites

Travel sign blue on white with silhouette of marchers, along a wooded highway.

"Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail Sign," from Alabama Extension, Photograph is dedicated to the Public Domain under a Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Deed. 

Recommendations contributed by Nick Okrent, Penn Libraries Humanities Coordinator and subject specialist for History


Letter from Birmingham City Jail

In 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested and placed in jail for leading a demonstration despite an injunction against the action. This was after eight white clergymen in Alabama released a public statement criticizing the civil rights protests led by Dr. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. During his stay in prison, Dr. King composed "Letter from Birmingham City Jail," partially written on the margins of a newspaper and scraps of paper, as a response to these criticisms and to articulate his vision of the civil rights movement, defending the use of nonviolent civil disobedience and explaining why direct action was necessary. In addition, he rebutted claims that the movement should be more patient, arguing that waiting for justice and equal rights was no longer an option for the African American community

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