Eastern State Penitentiary Celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with Readings of "Letter from Birmingham Jail"

Jan 15, 2013, 13:17 ET from Eastern State Penitentiary

PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 15, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Eastern State Penitentiary honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day with special readings of King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail" throughout the holiday weekend.   Professional actors will read excerpts from King's letter, written 50 years ago, twice daily on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, January 19, 20 and 21, 2013, at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.  A Q&A moderated by a civil rights scholar will follow each reading.  The readings are free and open to the public.  Tickets are required and available at easternstate.org/tickets, or at the door subject to availability.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130115/PH42887 )

In addition, Eastern State Penitentiary's Winter Adventure Tours throughout the weekend will include information about how the civil rights movement affected Eastern State Penitentiary and how the inmates reacted to Dr. King's assassination in 1968.

Letter from Birmingham Jail

Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested in Birmingham, Alabama on April 12, 1963 for demonstrating without a permit.  During his 11 days in jail here, he wrote "Letter From Birmingham Jail" in response to a letter published by Alabama clergymen that criticized King's use of jail time to demonstrate civil injustice.  2013 celebrates the 50th anniversary of Dr. King's prison sentence and writing of the famous letter.

In the letter, Dr. King explains why he chose to use prisons as a tool in his civil rights movement.  He writes, "I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and willingly accepts the penalty by staying in jail in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the very highest respect for the law."  The letter became a manifesto for civil disobedience stating, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."  The letter led to a pivotal moment in the American civil rights movement when about a month after it was published Birmingham officials agreed to desegregate schools, restaurants and stores.

Winter Adventure Tours

Winter Adventure Tours run from December 1 through March 14, are limited to 25 people, and pair each small group with an expert guide for a one-hour tour of the penitentiary complex. The tour route changes to accommodate the weather, but may include the cellblocks, center surveillance hub, Al Capone's Cell, and Death Row.

The Winter Adventure Tour schedule is as follows:
Mondays through Fridays – 10:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m., and 4:00 p.m.
Saturdays and Sundays – Every hour from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased online at easternstate.org and are available at the door, subject to availability.

Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site is located at 22nd Street and Fairmount Avenue in Philadelphia. Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, and $8 for students and children ages 7-12. (Not recommended for children under the age of seven.) The penitentiary is open every day, year round. For more information, please call (215) 236-3300 or visit easternstate.org.



SOURCE Eastern State Penitentiary