“‘Have you ever killed anybody?’”
civil rights movement
A voting rights march, from Selma to the statehouse in Montgomery, Alabama.
A pivotal Civil Rights rally recalled, 50 years later.
In the ’50s and ’60s, the Reverend Will Campbell marched with MLK Jr. and worked to desegregate the University of Mississippi. Later, broke, he took a job as Waylon Jennings’ roadie and occasional spiritual guru. Afterward, his ministry grew even stranger and more itinerant.
There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience. You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all."