Summary of MLK’s Letter from Birmingham Jail
Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail is a response to a statement that was published by eight clergymen from Alabama. He usually doesn’t respond to people’s criticisms of his activities because he would otherwise have no time to do constructive work. But since he feels that the clergymen are men of good will and that their criticisms were sincere, he wanted to take the time to respond. King opens the letter with stating his position as President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference—an organization operating in every southern state that has affiliation with the Alabama Christian Movement for Human rights. His purpose on earth is to carry the gospel of freedom beyond his hometown, just as the prophets from the Bible carried the gospel to the corners of the Greco-Roman world. King’s letter was arranged in an organized fashion that explains what caused him to start taking direct action, why direct action is necessary, why it is worthy to break unjust laws, being considered an extremist, his disappointment with the church, and recognizing the true heroes of the South. King feels there is a correlation between all communities. Therefore, he cannot work solely in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” It’s unfortunate that the city’s white power structure leaves the Negro community with no alternative for direct action. Birmingham is the most segregated city in the United States. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatments in the streets and in the courts that are widely known. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation. Negroes sought to negotiate with the city leaders, but they consistently refused to engage in good-faith negotiation. Another cause of direct action was the broken agreement to a moratorium on all racial signs that...
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