Draft Of Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'Birmingham Letter' Going To Auction
A draft of Martin Luther King Jr.‘s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” will be auctioned off this week with an estimated value between $10,000 and $15,000.
Considered one of the most famous writings from the civil rights era, the letter is a part of a collection of items that will be auctioned at the Printed & Manuscript African Americana sale happening on Thursday at the Swann Auction Galleries.
King wrote the letter in April 1963, when he and a group of other Birmingham protesters were arrested. The draft was later typed into a formal letter by his staff and was published in magazines and newspapers, in hopes of drawing national attention to the racial inequality and mistreatment occurring in the South.
The item was acquired by antique collector James Allen three decades ago when he discovered it during an estate sale, that also included the papers of a former black minister from Alabama.
The words of King, as well as his wife Coretta, still resonate today. A speech that the latter gave against the nomination of Jeff Sessions for a federal district court judge for the Southern District of Alabama, resurfaced earlier this year when Sessions was nominated for attorney general by Donald Trump.
Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren attempted to recite Coretta’s speech in its entirety on the Senate Floor in protest of Sessions’ nomination but, was silence by Republicans. The speech was used again to protest Sessions when DC protesters recited the speech through a bullhorn at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s home.
In the cover page of the nine-page letter King wrote, “I write to express my sincere opposition to the confirmation of Jefferson B. Sessions as a federal district court judge for the Southern District of Alabama. My professional and personal roots in Alabama are deep and lasting. Anyone who has used the power of his office as United States Attorney to intimidate and chill the free exercise of the ballot by citizens should not be elevated to our courts. Mr. Sessions has used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters. For this reprehensible conduct, he should not be rewarded with a federal judgeship.”