ALABAMA CLERGYMEN'S LETTER TO DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.
[THE FOLLOWING IS A VERBATIM COPY OF THE PUBLIC STATEMENT DIRECTED
TO MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. BY EIGHT ALABAMA CLERGYMEN, WHICH
OCCASIONED HIS REPLY.]
April 12, 1963
We the undersigned clergymen are among those who in January, issued "An Appeal for
Law and Order and Common Sense," in dealing with racial problems in Alabama. We
expressed understanding that honest convictions in racial matters could properly be
pursued in the courts but urged that decisions of those courts should in the meantime
be peacefully obeyed.
Since that time there had been some evidence of increased forbearance and a
willingness to face facts. Responsible citizens have undertaken to work on various
problems which caused racial friction and unrest. In Birmingham, recent public events
have given indication that we all have opportunity for a new constructive and realistic
approach to racial problems.
However, we are now confronted by a series of demonstrations by some of our Negro
citizens directed and led in part by outsiders. We recognize the natural impatience of
people who feel that their hopes are slow in being realized. But we are convinced that
these demonstrations are unwise and untimely.
We agree rather with certain local Negro leadership which has called for honest and
open negotiation of racial issues in our area. And we believe this kind of facing of issues
can best be accomplished by citizens of our own metropolitan area white and Negro,
meeting with their knowledge and experience of the local situation. All of us need to
face that responsibility and find proper channels for its accomplishment.
Just as we formerly pointed out that "hatred and violence have no sanction in our
religious and political tradition." We also point out that such actions as incite to hatred
and violence, however technically peaceful those actions may be, have not contributed
to the resolution of our local problems. We do not believe that these days of new hope
are days when extreme measures are justified in Birmingham.
We commend the community as a whole and the local news media and law
enforcement officials in particular, on the calm manner in which these demonstrations
have been handled. We urge the public to continue to show restraint should the
demonstrations continue, and the law enforcement officials to remain calm and
continue to protect our city from violence.
We further strongly urge our own Negro community to withdraw support from these
demonstrations, and to unite locally in working peacefully for a better Birmingham.
When rights are consistently denied, a cause should be pressed in the courts and in
negotiations among local leaders, and not in the streets. We appeal to both our white
and Negro citizenry to observe the principles of law and order and common sense.
C. C. J. CARPENTER, D.D., LL.D. Bishop of Alabama
JOSEPH A. DURICK, D.D. Auxiliary Bishop. Diocese of Mobile-Birmingham
Rabbi HILTON J. GRAFMAN, Temple Emmanu-El, Birmingham, Alabama
Bishop PAUL HARDIN, Bishop of the Alabama-West Florida Conference of the
Bishop HOLAN B. HARMON, Bishop of the North Alabama Conference of the
GEORGE M. MURRAY, Bishop Coadjutor, Episcopal Diocese of Alabama
EDWARD V. RAMSAGE, Moderator, Synod of the Alabama Presbyterian Church in the
EARL STALLINGS, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Birmingham, Alabama.