A Testament of Hope - Martin Luther King

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"Letter from Birmingham Jail" is a clearly written essay that explains the reasons behind, and the methods of nonviolent civil disobedience, and gently expresses King's disappointment with those who are generally supportive of equal rights for African-Americans. Martin Luther King, more than any other figure, shaped American life from the mid-'50s to the late '60s. This was a time when large numbers of Americans, barely recognized as such by sanctioned power, dared to dream of what the country could be at its best, in the face of what often was its worst. For example, in December, 1955, days after Montgomery civil rights activist Rosa Parks refused to obey the city's rules mandating segregation on buses, a bus boycott was launched and King was elected as president of the newly formed Montgomery Improvement Association. As the boycott continued through 1956, King gained national prominence as a result of his exceptional oratorical skills and personal courage. Despite attempts to suppress the movement, Montgomery buses were desegregated in December 1956, after the United States Supreme Court declared Alabama's segregation laws unconstitutional. King's leadership took place during the most tumultuous period in America's recent past. Under his guidance, the unfathomable goal of abolishing federal and state-sanctioned segregation and discrimination was accomplished in only a few short years.King's factual and reasoned approach is intended to win his adversaries over by appealing to their consciences. King works with a rhetorical tradition not only because it is effectual but also because it resonates with the deepest aspect of his calling which was to spread the gospel of brotherhood and justice (152). From his peaceful persuasion, to imaginative solutions in changing times to the power of hope, optimism, nonviolence strategy, and finally to the need for a great dream, these valuable applications are comprehensive instruments for taking courageous action under...
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