Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham City Jail Heart-Felt Main Points

Topics: Civil disobedience, Nonviolence, Letter from Birmingham Jail Pages: 4 (1307 words) Published: May 9, 2013
Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham City Jail Heart-felt Main Points Martin Luther King was an extreme advocate of nonviolent protests in order to achieve social changes. He was the leader of nonviolent protests against segregation “Negros” and “Whites”. Unfortunately, his nonviolent protests to obtain equality between “Negros” and “Whites” were unsuccessful. Additionally, Birmingham City passed a stipulation prohibiting street marches without approval to do so. Therefore, King took action and began protesting for equality because he and his followers were displeased with this legislation. In reaction to the protest, King was arrested and “A Call for Unity” was published that day by clergymen criticizing King saying that the protest was “unwise and untimely.” While King was in jail, he addresses his “Letter from Birmingham City Jail” to the clergymen explaining that what he was doing was the right thing and was at the right time. In his letter, he points out five main points: we are all interrelated, his nonviolent campaign, just laws versus unjust laws, nonviolent resistance, and the misconception of time.

Kings first point, the notion that we are all interrelated, defended the clergymen’s argument against “outsiders coming in.” He advises his audience to take into account that what happens to “Negros” has an effect on them, even if they don’t realize it. King states that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” and “Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly” (204). These quotes can be summarized by saying that there shouldn’t be any “outsiders” in the United States; all Americans should work together without regard to skin color. Michael Leff sums up those quotes by saying, “Thus, King should not be regarded as an outsider; his presence in Birmingham is both appropriate and right” (5).

Secondly, King explains his four steps for change all through a nonviolent campaign. The first step is “collection of the facts to determine...

Cited: King Jr. Luther, Martin "Letter from Birmingham City Jail." Reading the World: Ideas That Matter. By Michael Austin. 2nd ed. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2010. 202-17. Print.
Leff, Michael. "Instrumental and Constitutive Rhetoric in Martin Luther King Jr. 's "Letter from
Birmingham Jail"." Rhetoric and Public Affairs 7.1 (2004): 37-51. Print.
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