Understanding the Understood
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. produced many literary works that have maintained lasting impressions on their readers, his piece called “A Letter from Birmingham Jail” is no different. This letter was written as a response to another letter, titled “A Call for Unity,” which was written by eight clergymen on April 12, 1963 and criticized Dr. King’s protest as being untimely. The clergymen agreed that social injustices existed but that they should be settled through the judicial system and not in an “untimely” manner on the streets. “Seldom, if ever, do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all of the criticisms that cross my desk,…I would have no time for constructive work.”(pg.1) Dr. King responded to this letter in particular because he believed it was written by men of genuine good will and their criticism was sincere. Dr. King was a stern believer in genuine people. According to Dr. King, staying idle while acknowledging segregation is an issue that plagues society far worse than someone believing in the act of segregation itself. For a large portion of his letter Dr. King speaks of ‘just’ and ‘unjust’ laws. He makes a clear distinction between both of them and he provides the reader with several definitions such as “Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.” and “Any law that uplifts human personality is just.” Segregation and discrimination has plagued the United States since the beginning of its time as a country. It was a huge problem for any community to deal with, especially in the South. The letter written by the clergymen, “A Call for Unity” agreed that social injustices did exist, but that Dr. King and his fellow African Americans handled the matter in an untimely fashion and were impatient. The meaning of patience, according to Webster’s dictionary, is the quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper,...
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