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Four Buffalo organizations will participate in a nationwide reading of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous letter from the Birmingham City Jail on Tuesday, the 50th anniversary of the day King began writing the seminal civil rights document.

The idea for the series belongs to Jim Baggett of the Birmingham Public Library, whose call for readings has struck a chord with dozens of organizations that have signed up to honor King’s legacy. King wrote the letter during his incarceration in Birmingham as a response to a group of white clergymen who urged him to abandon civil disobedience as a strategy to win civil rights for blacks.

“I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham,” King wrote in one of the letter’s most famous passages. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

Free readings of King’s letter from the Birmingham City Jail will take place Tuesday at 2 p.m. in the Canisius College Library (2001 Main St.), 5 p.m. in PUSH Buffalo’s Grant Street Neighborhood Center (271 Grant St.), 5:30 p.m. in the Frank Merriweather branch of the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library (1324 Jefferson Ave.) and 6 p.m. in Talking Leaves (3158 Main St.), in collaboration with Ujima Theatre.

– Colin Dabkowski