CLU marks anniversary of King's jail letter

Discussion will follow reading on April 16

Panelists will include CLU political science professor Gregory Freelan.

Photo: Brian Stethem

(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – March 26, 2013) California Lutheran University will mark the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” with a reading and discussion.

CLU students, faculty and community members will read the complete letter at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 16, in Lundring Events Center. An interdisciplinary panel discussion will follow. Panelists will include Ken Douglas Barrow, an NAACP Ventura County branch member who earned a master’s degree in public policy and administration from CLU; Pamela Brubaker, a CLU professor emerita of religion; CLU political science professor Gregory Freeland; and Ventura County NAACP Saturday School Director Cassandria Slay. CLU students majoring in English, history and religion will then lead a discussion with the audience.

“The letter holds profound significance as a rhetorical literary text, a historical document, an inspiration for political change and a religious doctrine centered around a philosophy of civil disobedience and nonviolence,” said Elmira Tadayon, a senior English major from Thousand Oaks who is organizing the event.

Tadayon, who plans to attend law school this fall, has always been interested in how the law affects social justice. Having read and studied King’s letter in various classes at CLU, she felt it would be a perfect inspiration for an interdisciplinary discussion about social justice.

King wrote the letter on April 16, 1963, from the city jail in Birmingham, Ala. He had been arrested for taking part in a nonviolent protest against racial segregation. He wrote the letter in response to a statement by eight white Alabama clergymen criticizing King and arguing that the battle against racial segregation should be fought in the courts, not in the streets.

CLU’s Center for Equality and Justice (CEQ), Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society, Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society and Religion Department are sponsoring the free event with support from the NAACP of Ventura County and the Community Advocacy Committee of Ventura County.

Lundring Events Center is located in the Gilbert Sports and Fitness Center at Olsen Road and Mountclef Boulevard in Thousand Oaks.

For more information, contact the CEQ at and 805-493-3694.