Martin Luther King Letter from Birmingham Jail

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Birmingham Jail
The eight Alabama clergymen wrote a public statement to express their feelings about the actions of Martin Luther King Jr. and his followers. They felt the demonstrations he was leading were unnecessary and the racial issues in the city of Birmingham could be resolved through the citizens having a meeting. The clergymen thought Negros should be patient and “observe the principles of law and order and common sense” (Public Statement). The clergymen stated, “We further strongly urge our own Negro community to withdraw support from these demonstrations and to unite locally in working peacefully for a better Birmingham” (Public Statement). This was their way of saying King was not welcome or needed in Birmingham. They seemed to believe in segregation and rights of black people, but they didn’t accept the ways of protest and demanding.

King writes a letter to the clergymen on 16 April, 1963 to defend his position in Birmingham. King retaliates on all points made by the clergymen and gives much in depth examples to defend his actions. He feels that without pressure there will be no change, definitely not soon enough. He proclaims, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” to defend his reason for coming to Birmingham (Letter). He told them he was invited on behalf of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. King acknowledged that they had no right to speak of abiding laws; since the officials in Birmingham had made a promise to remove all racial signs in the city’s stores, but the ones that were taken down were eventually replaced and the decision made by the supreme court outlawing segregation in all public schools, is not being obeyed (Letter).

Kings journey began long before his trip to Birmingham. He gave a sermon on November 17, 1957 known as, “Loving Your Enemies.” King believed that we are all God’s children no matter our race and we should not have enemies or treat anyone different for any reason. He preached,...
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