Martin Luther King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail

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Martin Luther King Jr. was a major part of the civil rights movement. He led a peaceful protest and yet he was still arrested, which violated the first amendment. While in jail, a statement was published by eight white members of the clergy who criticized King’s actions as “unwise and untimely” and that the battle for segregation was supposed to be fought in the courts but never in the streets. In response to their statement, King wrote a multipage letter, “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” directed towards those men and America.

King wrote the “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” because he stood for what he believed in and strongly felt that he was fighting for the right cause. In the letter, King states the disappointment he has towards the white moderate. He says the white moderate did not understand that law and order coincide for the sole purpose of establishing justice. Since they didn’t understand “they became the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.”(295). Due to the white moderates following these unjust laws, they became blind to the fact that it allows segregation to continue for a significant amount of time.

Another idea that King believed kept the African Americans suppressed was negative peace. Negative peace, which the white moderate tended to follow, is what kept the segregation going, this is why he believed in positive peace. Now positive peace is the idea that King tried to encourage upon others to help create equality for all. Another aspect that King believed in was tension, but the type he followed was “constructive, nonviolent tension which necessary for growth” (291). In the letter, King refers to Socrates and his viewpoint of tension, which was that it was necessary to create tension in the mind so that people could rise above the tight fearful grip that myths held upon their lives and the automatic belief in half truths that were fed to them by the democracy. King was convinced that...
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