January 16, 2023, 11:00 am – 4:45 pm
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Free. In-Person at Eastern State Penitentiary.
No reservations required.
Commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy and contemplate the significance and ongoing relevance of his 1963 “Letter from Birmingham Jail” during an in-person, all-day event at Eastern State Penitentiary.
Readings & Discussions:
Listen as guest speakers read excerpts from “Letter from Birmingham Jail” and texts by other civil rights movement leaders directly impacted by incarceration. The words of Frederick Douglass, Angela Y. Davis, Malcolm X, and Ida B. Wells will illuminate Dr. King’s place within a long lineage of leaders in the struggle for racial equality. Each passage centers around a specific theme and encourages reflection and group discussion. Seating is limited and is first-come, first-served.
- 11:00 am - 11:30 am — Opening Remarks & Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. | Larry Krasner (District Attorney, City of Philadelphia), Kendra Brooks (Councilmember, City of Philadelphia), Hon. Stephanie M. Sawyer (Judge, Philadelphia Municipal Court), Rue Landau (Candidate for Philadelphia City Council), Jerome Loach (Supervisor, Education & Partnerships; Eastern State Penitentiary)
- 12:00-12:30 pm — Frederick Douglass | Shakaboona Marshall (Co-Founder, Human Rights Coalition; Journalist, Prison Radio)
- 1:00-1:30 pm — Angela Y. Davis | Shakaboona Marshall, Cameron Scott (Student, Girard College)
- 2:00-2:30 — Malcolm X | Ismael Jimenez (Director of Social Studies Curriculum, School District of Philadelphia; Co-Founder, Philadelphia Black History Collaborative)
- 3:00-3:30 pm — Ida B. Wells | Ismael Jimenez, Jasmin Clark (Student, Girard College)
- 4:00-4:45 pm — Closing Remarks & Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. | Chelsey Lightsey (Assistant District Attorney, City of Philadelphia), Keir Bradford-Grey (Former Chief Defender, Defender Association of Philadelphia; Partner, Montgomery McCracken), Ismael Jimenez, Shakaboona Marshall
From 12:00-2:00 pm, enjoy programming designed with children and their caregivers in mind. Educators will host story times featuring children’s books written by and about civil rights movement leaders. Plus, continue learning with specially designed hands-on activities.
All day long, visit activity stations to register to vote or write a postcard to someone currently incarcerated in a Pennsylvania prison.
About “Letter from Birmingham Jail”:
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested in Birmingham, Alabama on April 12, 1963 for demonstrating without a permit. During his 11 days in jail there, 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. In the letter, written with a contraband pencil in the margins of a newspaper, Dr. King explains why he chose to use prisons as a tool in his civil rights movement. The letter became a manifesto for civil disobedience, stating, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” and marked an important turning point in the civil rights movement.