A Call for Unity
"A Call for Unity" was an open letter published in Birmingham, Alabama, on April 12, 1963, by eight local white clergymen in response to civil rights demonstrations taking place in the area at the time. In the letter, they took issue with events "directed and led in part by outsiders," urging activists to engage in local negotiations and use the courts if rights were being denied rather than to protest.
The authors of "A Call for Unity" had written "An Appeal for Law and Order and Common Sense" in January of the same year.
However, we are now confronted by a series of demonstrations by some of our Negro citizens, directed and led in part by outsiders. We recognize the natural impatience of people who feel that their hopes are slow in being realized. But we are convinced that these demonstrations are unwise and untimely.
We agree rather with certain local Negro leadership which has called for honest and open negotiation in our area. And we believe this kind of facing of issues can best be accomplished by citizens of our own metropolitan area, white and Negro, meeting with their knowledge and experience of the local situation. All of us need to face that responsibility and find proper channels for its accomplishment.
Just as we formerly pointed out that "hatred and violence have no sanction in our religious and political traditions", we also point out that such actions as incite to hatred and violence, however technically peaceful those actions may be, have not contributed to the resolution of our local problems. We do not believe that these days of new hope are days when extreme measures are justified in Birmingham.
We commend the community as a whole, and the local news media and law enforcement officials in particular, on the calm manner in which these demonstrations have been handled. We urge the public to continue to show restraint should the demonstrations continue, and the law enforcement officials to remain calm and continue to protect our city from violence.
We further strongly urge our own Negro community to withdraw support from these demonstrations, and to unite locally in working peacefully for a better Birmingham. When rights are consistently denied, a cause should be pressed in the courts and in negotiations among local leaders, and not in the streets. We appeal to both our white and Negro citizenry to observe the principles of law and order and common sense.
- C. C. J. Carpenter, D.D., LL.D., Bishop of Alabama
- Joseph Durick, D.D. Auxiliary Bishop, Diocese of Mobile, Birmingham
- Milton L. Grafman, Rabbi of Temple Emanu-El, Birmingham, Alabama
- Paul Hardin, Bishop of the Alabama-West Florida Conference
- Nolan Bailey Harmon, Bishop of the North Alabama Conference of the Methodist Church
- George M. Murray, D.D., LL.D., Bishop Coadjutor, Episcopal Diocese of Alabama
- Edward V. Ramage, Moderator, Synod of the Alabama Presbyterian Church in the United States
- Earl Stallings, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Birmingham, Alabama
- Bass, S. Jonathan (2001) Blessed Are The Peacemakers: Martin Luther King, Jr., Eight White Religious Leaders, and the "Letter from Birmingham Jail". Baton Rouge: LSU Press. ISBN 0-8071-2655-1