On 19 October–three days after the close of the SNCC conference–Atlanta police arrested King and student activists who had requested service at the Magnolia Room, a segregated restaurant at Rich’s department store in downtown Atlanta. Organized by the Atlanta Committee on an Appeal for Human Rights the sit-in was one of several conducted simultaneously at lunch counters throughout the city. After charges were dropped against many of the demonstrators, King and thirty-five others remained in custody, refusing to post bond. King proclaims his willingness to remain “in jail a year or even ten years.” King may have used this draft, handwritten in a wire-bound notebook, to form his remarks during his arraignment later that day before Judge Webb.
Your Honor, I would simply like to say that I dont think we have done anything wrong in seeking to be served at the Magnolia Tea Room of Rich’s. We assembled quietly, peacefully and non-violently to secure seek service just as any other citizen. If we lived in a totalitarian regiem or a gestapo system I could see how we might have been wrong. But one of the great glories of democracy is the right to protest for right. So we do not feel that we have violated the law.
If by chance, your honor, we are guilty of violating the law please be assured that we did it to bring the whole issue of racial injustice under the scrutiny of the conscience of Atlanta. I must honestly say that we firmly believe that segregation is evil, and that our southland will never reach its full economic, political and moral maturity until this cancerous disease is removed. We do not seek to remove this unjust system for ourselves alone but for our white brothers as well. The festering sore of segregation debilitates the white man as well as the Negro. So if our action in anyway served to bring this issue to the forefront of the conscience of the community it could it was not undertaken in vain.
We are not dangerous rabblerousers or nagging professional agitators. Our actions grow out of a deep seated con Our actions grow out of deep seated concern for the moral heath of our community. We have not been motivated by some foreign ideology--communistic or any other. We did it because of our love for America, our southland and our white brothers.
And sir I know you have a legal obligation facing you at this hour. This judicial obligation may cause you to [bond?] us over to another court rather than dismiss the charge. But sir I must say that I have a moral obligation facing me at this hour. This divine imperative drive me to say that if you find it necessary to set a bond, I cannot in all good conscience have anyone go my bail. I will coose jail rather than bail, even if it takes re means remaining in jail a year or even ten years. Mayby it will take this type of self suffering on the part of numerous Negroes to finally expose the moral defenses of the our white brother who happen to be misguided and therby awaken the doazing conscience of our community.
AD. CSKC: MS 2.