An Alabama county jail is preserving what's left of the cell where authorities say Martin Luther King Jr. served time just before his assassination in 1968.

View of Martin Luther King Jr and some of the leaders of March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom
An Alabama county jail where Martin Luther King Jr was Robert W. Kelley/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Authorities in Jefferson County courthouse have discovered that one of its former cells was used to detain MLK after the last time he was arrested. It was the only one not removed during previous renovations, reports CNN. Sheriff Mark Pettway called the discovery of the jail a "hidden treasure" when speaking to AP and said that the county has plans to memorialize it and eventually turn it into an educational and tourist attraction with a focus on civil rights.

Pettway said that MLK was held there in 1967, when he served three days for contempt after losing an appeal on his conviction for demonstrating without a permit in an anti-segregation protest some years earlier. It's believed to have been the last time he was arrested before being assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee in 1968.

Martin Luther King arrest
Martin Luther King arrested for loitering near a courtroom where one of his integration lieutenants was on the stand. Getty Images

Commission member Lashunda Roberts-Scales told AP that the community needs to "recognize its past mistakes" to move forward." We believe that the public should have the right, for educational purposes, to know about King’s last movements before he was assassinated. That’s very important to us," she said.

MLK, whose full title is the Rev. Dr Martin Luther King Jr., was arrested a number of times during the civil rights era. The most memorable incident is in 1963 when he spent time in solitary confinement in a Birmingham city jail following an arrest for leading nonviolent protests. That cell was where he penned the open letter, Letter from Birmingham Jail, which includes the famous quote, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

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