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In August of 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. was held in the Birmingham jail for leading a non-violent protest against the injustices dealt to the African American community there. While in jail, he wrote a letter to the eight white religious leaders, who were concerned about the protests. MLK and his organization had tried unsuccessfully to effect change through talks with city leaders and shop owners. Birmingham, at the time, had more unsolved bombings and attacks on Blacks than any other city in the nation. Promises were made but never kept. For example, many of the stores in Birmingham had "humiliating racial signs" in their windows, and after a meeting with them, the shopkeepers promised to take the signs down. If they had kept their promises, the demonstrations would not have happened. Martin Luther King, Jr. therefore, felt the white power structure in Birmingham gave him no alternative.
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