Analysis of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail

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Analysis of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail My dream of attending a Predominantly White Institution would not have being able to come true if it would have been for people like Dr. Martin Luther King. King’s plan was to help end racial segregation within Alabama. King, Parks, Douglas and other activist of the Civil Rights Movement’s dreams were for everyone to have equal rights, especially African Americans. King was jailed because injustice was in the city and he was there to make a change and was not going to leave until he was done. Even though King had a plan, he could not do this alone, so he wrote a letter to the eight clergymen to help get his point across. King was an activist of nonviolence. During this time, Birmingham, Alabama, had desegregation and racial discrimination occurring. Throughout King’s letter he explains why he is visiting Alabama and all of the negativity that is occurring within the state.

Changing one’s perspective on racial discrimination cannot be decided by one person. King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” (148). He said this because if you do wrong things or treat a person wrong, not only can it happen in your society or somewhere else around the world too. In Alabama, the laws were unjust laws, and African Americans got treated unequally. King implemented Christianity throughout his letter to get interest in the clergymen and to explain why he was in Birmingham. He applied Christianity so that the clergymen could understand his point of view. He states, “But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their “thus saith the Lord” far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco- Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town.” (148). He told his fellow clergymen that because the African American race has been waiting for freedom and equality for a very long time. During this time, the black race was oppressed and yearning for freedom.

In King’s letter, he came up with ideas on how to help end segregation and racial discrimination. King said, “Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?” (149). Direct action was chosen because without deeds there is no reaction. These actions were to keep down violent crimes, tensions and crises. Back in 1963, public facilities had signs posted saying, “No blacks allowed.” Blacks were not allowed to have dinner in public restaurants, go to public parks, drink out of public water fountains, cast his or her vote, or sit in the front of public transportation. All of these laws were unjust laws. King writes, “An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statues are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an “I-it” relationship for an “I-thou” relationship and ends up relegating persons to that status things. Hence, segregation is not only politically, economically, and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and sinful (151). The black citizens in Birmingham were brutally beaten, hated, cursed, kicked, and even killed. In contrast, blacks in Alabama had begged for freedom and fought for it in nonviolent ways. King stated, “For there is the more excellent way of love and nonviolent protest. I am grateful to God that, through the influence of the Negro church, the way of nonviolence became an integral part of or struggle.” (153). King used Christianity to help prevent a solution to...
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