Martin Luther King Jr.'s Letter from Birmingham Jail

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English 102
2 October 2012 Essay Topic #2

The Force of Nonviolent Direct Action

In “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” Martin Luther King states, “I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek.” King is a well know supporter of nonviolent direct action. He proves its effectiveness in his letter. Whether the results were saving lives or influencing the younger generations, he left his positive mark on this nation. King chose the correct path when deciding that nonviolent direct action was the most effective method in his effort to change the world.

The African Americans during this era would have been equally as wrong as the white population had they contributed to the destruction around them. During such a racist period, white Americans would have used the excuse of self defense during violent battles, resulting in justified death. In King’s letter, he wrote, “Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue.” He did not intend on starting a major chaotic uprising, he wanted only their voices be heard. Nonviolence is a harmless, more constructive approach to this goal. With the vision of protesting and exercising self-purification, this nation would have no choice but to confront the discriminatory issues at hand. If the African Americans were to mirror the actions of the white Americans, this would have lead to more death and dismay rather than any positive outcomes. Fighting back with violence is like bombing for peace; of course the message is sent, but in the end any progress that was made thus far is reversed. By standing back and letting their subdued actions speak for themselves, the African Americans paved the way for future negotiations.

King’s main argument was respectful, which was reflected in his letter along with his methods. The...
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