white alabama

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World Cafe Nashville: Ruby Amanfu

Ruby Amanfu is a treasured member of Nashville’s creative community and a star on the rise. Born in Ghana, she moved with her family to Nashville when she was 3; her musical gifts emerged soon after. 

She has one of the most varied resumes of any Nashville performer, having sung with everyone from the Nashville Symphony Chorus to Kelly Clarkson to Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard to Jack White — Amanfu was a member of White’s all-woman band, The Peacocks, and duetted on his hit “Love Interruption.”

Her most recent solo album is 2015’s Standing Still, which included her version of Brandi Carlile’s “Shadow On The Wall,” featured on the new Carlile tribute album Cover Stories. 

For this set, Amanfu is joined by Jeremy Fetzer and Spencer Cullum, Jr., otherwise known as Steelism — a guitar and pedal-steel duo known as a secret weapon for myriad Nashville artists and for its own recordings, including the album ism, out June 23. [Read More]

Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested on 12 April 1963 (Good Friday) in Birmingham, AL, along with Ralph Abernathy, Fred Shuttlesworth, and other marches, for their nonviolent marches and sit-ins protesting racial segregation. It was the 13th time King had been arrested. He was placed alone in a dark cell without a mattress and denied his right to a phone call.

A newspaper was smuggled into King’s cell, which contained an article written by 8 white Alabama clergy, condemning King and his protests. The article prompted King to write his “Letter from Birmingham” on 16 April 1963.

King addressed the letter to the clergy: “Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.“

He also directly addressed the calls of him being an outsider, discussing his ties with Birmingham, the fact that he had been invited, and the larger issue of injustice: “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. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.“

He then outlined his methods and rationale for action, as well as the accusation that it had been “ill-timed”: “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was ‘well timed’ in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word ‘Wait!’ It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant ‘Never.’ We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that ‘justice too long delayed is justice denied.’"

King wrote the letter in the margins of the smuggled newspaper and scraps of paper and gave it to his lawyer. The New York Times expressed interest in publishing it, but ultimately declined. The New York Post published unauthorized excerpts on 19 May 1963, before its official publication in Liberation magazine in June, and the 12 June issue of The Christian Century magazine. It gained widespread publication in the July issue of Atlantic Monthly.

King was released on bond from the Birmingham jail on 20 April 1963.

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