Letter from Birmingham Jail Analysis

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A letter could contain the proclamation of one’s love from a long lost friend. A letter could be addressing one’s recent trip, detailing the sights they saw. Or in this case, a letter could change the course of history. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail was a plea for justice, a call for unity, and a proclamation for the American people to look past the color of one’s skin. These appeals that were evident throughout the letter all led to a simple demand for a two-syllable word that our country so proudly proclaims, freedom. For this reason, Dr. King’s Letter from the Birmingham Jail is a critical piece that requires inclusion in Significant Documents in modern United States history. Not only was it a letter written in an unimaginable circumstance, beginning on margins of the newspaper and continuing on scraps of writing paper supplied by a fellow prisoner but it was the history of the author who made the letter so significant. To fully understand the multitude of his work, one must start with background knowledge. To set the scene, young, Martin Luther King Jr. attended segregated public schools in Georgia. He graduated high school at the age of fifteen. He then attended Morehouse College, a distinguished Negro institution, and received his B.A. degree in 1948. Seven years later, Dr. King earned his graduate degree from Boston University. He followed in his father and grandfather’s footsteps as pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. Being born and raised in the South prior to the Civil Rights movement, forcing him to face adversity everyday, did not defeat Dr. King like it did his fellow Negroes; it ignited him. The events that led Dr. King to sit in a jail cell and write a letter to those who criticized him and his actions were rather simple. He responded honest and to the point, “I am in Birmingham because injustice is here.” As president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, or SCLC, Dr. King was asked to participate...
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