Jefferson Co. Commission, Sheriff memorialize Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. jail cell

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The Jefferson County Commission and Sheriff Mark Pettway have found a piece of hidden history that they took time to memorialize Thursday morning. The last remaining county jail cell of Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The jail cell is located on the seventh floor of the Jefferson County Courthouse.

A ceremony was held Thursday morning at Jefferson County Commission Chambers. The purpose of the ceremony is to commemorate the confinement of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the Jefferson County Jail after his arrest in 1967 on a failure to obtain of City of Birmingham parade permit.

WATCH: Jefferson County Memorialize Martin Luther King Jr. Jail

Jefferson County Sheriff Mark Pettway says he located the documents inside his office and since finding the documents.

Pettway says, “It is no longer a hidden treasure and is now out for the public to see.”

He says this historic find was brought to his attention by his spokesman Mr. Agee.

Sheriff Pettway says the full story has not been told and many believe that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was in the Birmingham jail the entire time, but he was actually taken to the Bessemer facility for one night and then the next day he was taken to Jefferson County for court.

And that is when the judge gave Dr. King Jr. a sentence of four days. But he was only housed in the Jefferson County Jail for three days.

The Jefferson County Commission says they are not sure when the Jefferson County Memorialized Jail Cell will be available for the public but they are working to get it done in order to help educate the public on the impact that the Jefferson County jail had on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy in Birmingham and the civil rights era.

They are currently in the process to see how much the investment will be to preserve the history in Birmingham.

However, Dr. King penned his famous letter from the Birmingham jail five months before the assassination. The national commemoration of Dr. King’s birthday is taking place on Jan. 20.


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