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Screen the Film in your community or organization!

Search below for screenings in your area.  If you don’t see a screening in your community, consider HOSTING ONE!



Schedule a public screening!



United Way of Central Ohio

Cardinal Health



Westerville Public Library: May 5, 2014

COSI Center of Science and Industry: May 2, 2014

Family Fellowship Church of Christ: Apr. 30, 2014

Methodist Theological School in Ohio: Apr. 22, 2014

Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP: Mar. 13, 2014

OSU Human Resources: Feb. 28, 2014

Ware County High School, Waycross, Georgia: Feb. 26, 2014

Columbus Walnut Ridge High School AP Students: Feb. 26, 2014

WOSU-TV: Feb. 25, 2014

Columbus Urban League: Feb. 21, 2014

Ohio Attorney General’s Office: Feb. 20, 2014

Ashland Inc. Specialty Chemical Company (simulcast Charlotte, NC and Louisville, KY): Feb. 19, 2014

Nationwide Childrens’ Hospital: Feb. 10, 2014

Central Ohio Diversity Consortium: Feb. 3, 2014

OSU College of Social Work: Multicultural Class: Jan: 30, 2014

Wright State University:  Jan. 22, 2014

OSU Black Faculty and Staff Diversity Network: Jan. 21, 2014

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center: Jan. 20, 2014

OSU Hale Center’s MLK Celebration Jan.16, 2014

King Arts Complex: Nov. 3, 2013 – Grand Premiere

The King Arts Complex hosted the Grand Premiere of the film to more than 300 people. It was a highly successful launch.


Film Screening Submission Form

The Kirwan Institute welcomes you to host your own screening of “A Reading of the Letter From Birmingham Jail.”

The rules for Private/Public Screenings are very simple.

  • The screenings need to have free entrance.
  • The screenings need to have a minimum capacity of  15 people (however exceptions can be made).
  • The screenings need to be verified by The Kirwan Institute and only screenings that are featured on www.kirwaninstitute.osu.edu are official Private/Public Screenings
  • The film is 56 minutes and must be presented in its entirety. Cuts made to the film are not acceptable.

The Private/Public Screenings will run until we see fit. Private screenings are for particular audiences or for organizations.  Public screenings open to anyone. We welcome both.

The director and the producer of the film; and the executive director of the Kirwan Institute are available to speak and attend your screening for either a Q&A or a facilitated discussion. Please note: if it requires us to travel more than 300 miles travel and lodging arrangements may need to be discussed. 

The idea of Private/Public Screenings is an attempt at creating a free and inspiring distribution method for film.


This is where you sign up to host a Private/Public Screening, but first we recommend you to read the rules and introduction on the above.

Once you submit your details we will verify them as fast as possible and we will notify you by email or phone call. Please notice that we need 11 days minimum to approve you screening and get you the files.


As a host you will receive a personal link to a download package. This download package will provide you with the film in high resolution as a .mp4 file type. The download package has a size of 2.4GB.

You can play the film from your computer and connect it to a projector or one a modern TV, or simply screen it on your computer´s screen (if you have a big one).

If you would like to use a DVD player to screen the film then you can burn a playable DVD using a DVD burner application and the film file in the download package.

“A Reading of the Letter from Birmingham Jail” is a theatrical non-fiction documentary. We encourage you to make sure that you can screen the film properly and with good and clear video and sound.

It is NOT authorized to share this film during the screening period without written consent from the Kirwan Institute. Please respect our copyright license.


Former Morehouse College President reacts to the film "A Reading of the Letter from Birmingham Jail."

PBS/WOSU-TV | June 24, 2014 | Film aired before the premiere of “Freedom Summer.”

Columbus CEO Magazine | July 2014 | Kirwan MLK film inspires local companies

Psychology Today | March 2014 | A Reading of the Letter From Birmingham Jail: A Review

United Way Central Ohio Newsletter | Feb. 2014 | Screening event for new film honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.

PBS/WOSU-TV | February 25, 2014 | Film aired at 8 p.m.

W.K. Kellogg Foundation Place Matters Conference | October 2013 | Official Trailer aired at their conference

High School Lesson Plan: King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute – Stamford University


The following lesson encourages students to reflect on nonviolence as an instrument to change unjust laws by studying the Birmingham Campaign of 1963. Within this six-part lesson students will participate in a role play about the intricate planning strategies of Project C, observe the courageous activism of young people and examine the eloquent words of Dr. King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail. The lesson provides students the opportunity to analyze primary source documents, interact with KPP’s online resources and discuss the concept of social justice and social transformation in the past and in the present.
Print version (PDF)

Grades: 9-12 

The essential question and sub questions are designed to guide the teacher and students through each segment of the lesson. These questions may be used as assessment at the end of the unit or as discussion prompts along the way. Teachers are encouraged to teach the entire unit or to choose the parts which fit their curricular needs. All activities are offered as an online experience or in print format.

Essential Question:

Did the nonviolent direct action, which King describes in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” successfully transform Birmingham, Alabama from a segregated to a just society in 1963?

Sub Questions:

  • How do we, as a society, define an unjust law, and what kinds of strategies and tactics have proven most effective in changing such laws? If we are able to abolish legal injustice will it necessarily result in social justice?
  • What was the social, political and economic situation in Birmingham, AL before the spring of 1963?
  • What were the goals of Project C and how were these goals to be accomplished?
  • In “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” how does King explain the purpose and effectiveness of nonviolent direct action?
  • As Project C began to unfold in Birmingham in the spring and summer of 1963, how were these events reported to the nation and world?
  • Was it the adults or the children of Birmingham that lead the strategy to fill the jails through civil disobedience?
  • Have the people of Birmingham reached a point of reconciliation after the experiences of injustice, violence and nonviolent direct action?


Introduction to Birmingham
Project C Strategy Committee Role Play
Letter from a Birmingham Jail
The Children Shall Lead
The Big Three: Should They Take the Offer?
Transformation? Reconciliation? Does nonviolence work?

Assessment/Culminating Project

About the Picture

MLK-lfbj-artThis is a non-fiction film commemorating Martin Luther King, Jr.‘s famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” The film stars community leaders of Columbus, Ohio and educators and leaders of The Ohio State University. The Letter from Birmingham Jail is an open letter written on April 16, 1963, by Martin Luther King, Jr. The letter defends the strategy of nonviolent resistance to racial discrimination, arguing that people have a moral responsibility to break unjust laws. After an early setback, it enjoyed widespread publication and became a key text for the American civil rights movement of the early 1960s.

The film is approximately 56 minutes.

History of the film

In March of this year, Jim Baggett, the head archivist of the Birmingham Public Library, contacted Sharon Davies, Executive Director of the Kirwan Institute, about the idea to have an international day of remembrance of MLK’s famous Letter from Birmingham Jail,  50 years after its drafting.

Its April 16 anniversary was approaching fast.  The idea was to have the Letter from Birmingham Jail read by community leaders in cities around the globe on the anniversary.  She agreed to organize an effort here in Columbus straight away.

The idea continued to evolve in unexpected ways.  The main idea being to create more than a “video” but to create a non-fiction film that brings The Letter to life.

We felt it was important to film our community leaders. Our goal was to create a timeless educational piece that united Columbus and The Ohio State University’s leaders around this important and world famous literary piece.

The plan was to then gift the taped reading of MLK’s Letter by Columbus leaders to the Birmingham Public Library and the City of Birmingham.  That plan continued to grow when Kirwan’s invitations to various leaders (including U.S. Senators, Congress and State Senate Members, federal judges, university presidents, athletic leaders, business leaders, philanthropic leaders, Heisman trophy winners, and more) were eagerly accepted, and the recording of their segments got underway.   As you might imagine, with their busy schedules to contend with, that took some time to complete.

While initially Kirwan had hoped to finish the filming and editing by April 16th to meet Jim Baggett’s delightful challenge and to air the film on the 50th anniversary of the actual day that Dr. King wrote his letter.  Ultimately the interest of the project grew, and with that growth came efforts to produce a more impactful film. Charles Noble, Moritz College of Law Graduate and Kirwan Researcher was the prime producer of this film handling many of the logistical details and ensuring quality.

The film is directed by Jamaal Bell, Kirwan’s Director of Communications; with the assistance of Rick Harrison and Joe Camoriano of University Communications. Bell also produced the visual effects and edited the film.

The picture was filmed on DLSR and edited using Adobe AfterEffects, Apple Final Cut Pro, and mastered in Premiere Pro.

Cast & Crew


Alan Michaels Dean, Michael E. Moritz College of Law

Alex Shumate  Managing Partner- North America, Squire Sanders/ Trustee, OSU

Algenon Marbley US Federal Judge, Southern District of Ohio/ Trustee, OSU

Archie Griffin President/CEO, The Ohio State University Alumni Association, Inc.

Anthony Trotman Director, Franklin County Department of Job and Family Services

Carl Smallwood Partner, Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP

Charles Booth Lead Pastor, Mt. Olivet Baptist Church

Charleta Tavares State Senator, Ohio – 15th District

Clark Kellogg Vice President of Player Affairs, Indiana Pacers, Trustee, OSU

Curt Moody President/CEO, Moody•Nolan Architecture Firm

David Barker Member of 1960 OSU tournament championship team/ Owner, David Barker Art Gallery

Douglas Kridler President/CEO, The Columbus Foundation

Elizabeth Trotman Director, Champion of Children at United Way of Central Ohio

Gene Smith Athletic Director, OSU

Gordon Gee President Emeritus, OSU

Guy Cole US Federal Judge, 6th Circuit Court of Appeals

H. Ike Okafor-Newsum Associate Professor and Department Chair, Department of African American and African Studies

James Moore Director, Todd Bell Resource Center/ Associate Provost, Office of Diversity & Inclusion

Janet Jackson President/CEO, United Way of Central Ohio

Javuane Adams-Gaston Vice President for Student Life

Joseph Alutto Interim President, OSU

Joyce Beatty US Representative, Ohio – 3rd District

Kathy Northern Associate Dean for Admissions/Associate Professor of Law, Moritz College of Law

Larry Williamson Director, Hale Black Cultural Center

Les Wexner Chairman/CEO, Limited Brands Corp.

Michael Coleman Mayor, City of Columbus

Michael Payton Executive Director, Ohio Civil Rights Commission

Mike Vrabel Defensive Line Coach, OSU

Nancy Rogers Professor Emeritus of Law, Michael E. Moritz College of Law

Ray Miller Editor, Columbus African American News Journal/ Trustee, Central State University

Rob Portman US Senator, Ohio

Rob Solomon Assistant Dean for Admissions and Director of Diversity & Inclusion, Moritz College of Law

Sharon Davies Executive Director, Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity

Sherrod Brown US Senator, Ohio

Shirley Duncan Widow of the late Judge Robert M. Duncan

Stephanie Hightower President/CEO, Columbus Urban League

TK Daniel Professor, College of Education and Human Ecology/Moritz College of Law

Urban Meyer Head Football Coach, OSU

Valerie Lee Vice Provost for Diversity & Inclusion

Yvette McGee Brown Partner, Jones Day


Jamaal Bell Director, Editor

Sharon Davies & Charles Noble Producers

Joe Camoriano & Rick Harrison Co-directors

The Trailer

The Premiere

The Kirwan Institute and the Columbus community is Commemorating Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail.” It is read by more than 30 community leaders from Columbus, Ohio in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail.

“A Reading of the Letter from Birmingham Jail” premiered November 3rd to a packed house in Columbus’ own Martin Luther King, Jr. Arts Complex in the 444-seat Pythian Theater.


April 12, 1963 – We the undersigned clergymen are among those who, in January, issued “An Appeal for Law and Order and Common Sense,” in dealing with racial problems in Alabama. We expressed understanding that honest convictions in racial matters could properly be pursued in the courts, but urged that decisions of those courts should in the meantime be peacefully obeyed. Since that time there had been some evidence of increased forbearance and a willingness to face facts. Responsible citizens have undertaken to work on various problems which cause racial friction and unrest. In Birmingham, recent public events have given indication that we all have opportunity for a new constructive and realistic approach to racial problems. 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 of racial issues 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 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 official 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 A. Durick, D.D. Auxiliary Bishop, Diocese of Mobile, Birmingham

Rabbi Hilton L. Grafman Temple Emanu-El, Birmingham, Alabama

Bishop Paul Hardin Bishop of the Alabama-West Florida Conference

Bishop Nolan B. Harmon Bishop of the North Alabama Conference of the Methodist Church

George M. Murray, D.D., LL.DBishop 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