A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from August 08, 2023
“If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so”

“If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so” is a popular saying that has been printed on many images. The saying is often credited to American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, architect, philosopher and third president Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), but he never said it.
   
“One has not only a legal, but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws” was written by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968), “Letter from a Birimingham Jail,” on April 16, 1963. “‘We believe it is a Christian duty to disobey unjust laws,’ Charles V. Willie, a Harvard professor and vice president of the church’s lay-clergy House of Deputies, told the congregation” was printed in the Delaware County (PA) Daily Times on July 30, 1974.
     
“If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so. Thomas Jefferson” was posted on the newsgroup soc.culture.malaysia on November 20, 1999.
     
“If a meme is dank, a man is not only right to steal it, he is obligated to do so.-Thomas Jefferson” is a jocular variation on the saying.
     
 
Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia (Monticello.org)
Quotation: “If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so.”
(...)
Earliest appearance in print: undetermined
Comments: This quotation has not been found in Thomas Jefferson’s papers.  It has been suggested that it is a paraphrase of Jefferson’s statement in the Declaration of Independence, “...whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government…,” although such a paraphrase would seem to be taking some radical liberties with the original version.  The quotation bears a much closer resemblance to Martin Luther King, Jr.‘s comment in his famous letter from Birmingham Jail: “One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”
 
Wikiquote: Martin Luther King Jr.   
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (15 January 1929 – 4 April 1968) was an American Baptist minister, civil rights activist, and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize of 1964. He was the husband of Coretta Scott King, and father of Yolanda King and Martin Luther King III.
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Letter from a Birmingham Jail (1963)
Response to an open letter by fellow clergyman criticizing his participation in civil rights demonstrations (16 April 1963
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One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal, but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”
   
Newspapers.com
20 June 1967, Greenfield (IN) Daily Reporter, “Rioters Fill Atlanta Streets” by the Associated Press, pg. 1, col. 7:
Elsewhere on the racial scene, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. expressed belief Monday that “it is necessary to disobey unjust laws because noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good.”
 
Appearing on NBC’s “Today” show, King said a man expressed “the highest respect for law” if he breaks a law his conscience says is unjust and willingly accepts the penalty.
 
Newspapers.com
26 April 1969, For Lauderdale (FL) News and Sun-Sentinel, pg. 12A, cols. 1-2:
CHARLESTON, S.C. (UPI)—Rev. Ralph Abernathy, “doing his b=duty,” was arrested Friday with 100 hospital workers for marching in front of the State Medical College Hospital in violation of a court order limiting pickets.
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Charleston Police Chief John Conroy ordered the arrests.
 
“You must do your duty to enforce the law and I must do my duty to disobey unjust laws,” Abernathy told Conroy.
 
Newspapers.com
30 July 1974, Delaware County (PA) Daily Times, “Women priests take office” (AP), pg. 2, col. 3:
“We believe it is a Christian duty to disobey unjust laws,” Charles V. Willie, a Harvard professor and vice president of the church’s lay-clergy House of Deputies, told the congregation.
 
Google Groups: soc.culture.malaysia
‘Petty offence’ here; jail in Singapore
druggie
Nov 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM
(...)
If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so.
Thomas Jefferson
     
Google Groups: alt.music.tool
rush limbaugh quotes
LocustSky
Feb 6, 2003, 4:12:44 AM
(...)
“If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so.”
- Thomas Jefferson
 
X/Twitter
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@algorhythmz
“If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so.” ——Thomas Jefferson
11:23 PM · Mar 11, 2009

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Military/Religion /Health • Tuesday, August 08, 2023 • Permalink


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