On Thursday, Jan. 23 at 11:30 a.m., the sun shone brightly through the windows of Hollenbeck Hall’s atrium illuminating the powerful words of Martin Luther King Jr’s open “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” An intellectual masterpiece from King’s nonviolent civil rights campaign, which speaker Andy Tune, Matevia Endowed University Pastor since 1999, describes as a timeless piece that “still speaks to us today.”
A culmination of 10 speakers, including students and members of Wittenberg’s Faculty, joined together to read aloud sections of the letter to continue the celebration of Martin Luther King Day, Monday, Jan. 20. Photos of the civil rights movement were lined up next to each speaker and a visual display of King’s letter was available on the windows of Hollenbeck Classroom 101.
Andy Tune began the event in prayer and gave thanks to the English Department for partnering with Weaver Chapel in organizing the event. In fact, when asked about the idea of the event, Tune gave credit and appreciation to the English Department, as the reading event was originally an idea brought to Weaver Chapel by the department, who felt the reading of the letter should be more accessible to students and would be more appropriate for a public space, considering the letter holds historical and political value. Tune went on to explain that Weaver Chapel has always hoped to move one of the Weekly Chapel Meetings into a public space outside of Weaver Chapel and was delighted that the English Department offered a great opportunity to do so.
Although, this is only the second year the event has taken place, Tune noted that there was a significant increase in audience attendance, compared to that of the usual Weekly Chapel meeting that takes place on Tues. and Thurs. at 11:30AM.
When asked about the decision for King’s letter to be read in partner with Weaver Chapel, Tune explained the Letter from Birmingham Jail is “uniquely faith related” in the way King directly addressed the clergy of the city and the way they continually turned a “blind eye” to the civil rights movement.
Tune described King’s letter as a powerful force in Civil Rights history that told the Church that in regards to Civil Rights, “we can’t afford to wait.”
A special thank you is in order to the following readers of King’s letter: Andy Tune, Rachel Tune, Dan Jacob, Jamin Waite, Violet Johnston, Olivia Riddle (’21), Jessica Pinkerton (’21), Robin Inboden, Lori Askeland and ShaDawn Battle.