Alabama county preserving remnant of jail that once held Martin Luther King Jr.

Alabama county to preserve remnant of jail that once held Martin Luther King Jr.

An Alabama county is preserving the remnants of a jail where Martin Luther King Jr. was incarcerated in the months before his assassination, officials said.

In a statement, Jefferson County officials said they plan to preserve the old Jefferson County Jail in Birmingham, AL.com reported. The jail is located on the seventh floor of what is now the Jefferson County Courthouse, according to the website.

“In order for Jefferson County to truly move forward, we must first recognize our past mistakes, take corrective action and move forward with a sincere desire to embrace people from all walks of life,” Jefferson County Commission President Pro-Tem Lashunda Scales said in a statement.

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King was arrested Oct. 30, 1967, by Jefferson County deputies when his plane landed in Birmingham, AL.com reported. King was taken to the Jefferson County Jail in Bessemer and then transferred to the jail in Birmingham, the website reported.

King was arrested after his appeal of a contempt conviction was denied. King had failed to obtain a parade permit from the city of Birmingham for a demonstration march several years earlier, AL.com reported. When King said there would still be a march, the city of Birmingham obtained an injunction from Alabama state court.

The state ruling was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in Walker v. City of Birmingham. Judges ruled King and other civil rights activists failed to use proper procedures to test the validity of the injunction.

King spent three days in the Birmingham jail. He was assassinated April 4, 1968, on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.

“As the first African-American sheriff to be elected to represent Jefferson County, it is very important to my administration to memorialize the work of Dr. King and other Civil Rights activists,” Jefferson County Sheriff Mark Pettway said in a statement.

Jefferson County Sheriff's Mark Pettway stands in a cell that was part of the old Jefferson County Jail in Birmingham.
Jefferson County Sheriff's Mark Pettway stands in a cell that was part of the old Jefferson County Jail in Birmingham. (Jay Reeves/Associated Press)