Letter from Birmingham City Jail
L. Michelle Price-Johnson
January 25, 2013
Ethics: Personal and Professional MHR-4510
My first thoughts in reading the Letter from Birmingham City Jail, was how striking the similarities were between this letter and the letters that the apostle Paul wrote while imprisoned. In “Paulian” style, Dr. Martin Luther King opens with addressing the clergymen with honor, clarifying their concerns of his being an “outsider” and establishing his legitimacy in Alabama. He even references Paul in the beginning of the letter with: Just as the eighth century prophets left their little villages and carried their "thus saith the Lord" far beyond the boundaries of their hometowns; and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to practically every hamlet and city of the Greco-Roman world, I too am compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my particular hometown. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid. This shows that as Dr. King was writing the letter, he was channeling Paul in an effort to deliver constructive information that may have not been readily entertained by the readers, who as clergymen would identify with his desire to connect with them on a faith level.
The letter also pointed out the ethical weaknesses and irrational responses of the people to whom the letter was addressed, beginning with: You deplored the demonstrations that are presently taking place in Birmingham. But I am sorry that your statement did not express a similar concern for the conditions that brought the demonstrations into being. Again, the Letter from Birmingham City Jail attempts to constructively correct the thinking of the reader. He parallels their outrage at the actions taken by the protestors, with the outrage they should have felt towards the unfair treatment that was being allowed.
The position of the clergymen...
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