Poetic Justice: A Look at King and Anthony

Topics: Law, Martin Luther King, Jr., United States Pages: 4 (1500 words) Published: February 23, 2014
Poetic Justice:
A Look at King and Anthony
Every society determines what laws are necessary to preserve the natural, moral, and ethical rights of its constituents. Laws are social structures put in place to maintain order and balance. Often, however, there has been a discrepancy between the justice served and the justice deserved as the law has been manipulated by a powerful group to exploit a weaker group. For example, during the mid 19th Century there was a steady increase in efforts for women’s rights, most notably the Convention at Seneca Falls in 1848. Later in 1868, the 14th Amendment to the Constitution cemented the status of all people born or naturalized in the U.S. as citizens and promised the protection of the all associated rights. Despite these signs of progress, women were still legally being denied the right to vote and equal protection under the law as men. Fighting for justice, Susan B. Anthony, a feminist and civil rights leader, broke the law and voted in the 1872 Presidential Election and delineated her reasons for doing so in her speech, ‘Is It a Crime for a U.S. Citizen to Vote’, in 1873. Similarly in 1963, Martin Luther King Jr., a social rights activist and Civil Rights leader, led a peaceful public protest against racism and segregation in Birmingham, not in accordance with the law. Dr. King advocated his method of nonviolent resistance to unjust laws in response to criticism from clergymen in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail”. Although Dr. King and Susan B. Anthony both practice Civil Disobedience to fight structural injustice, they do so differently with Dr. King using emotional appeal and Anthony critically analyzing laws and their intentions. Dr. King asserts that a just law is one that is moral in essence and applies to all citizens in the same manner. Thus, Dr. King aligns justice and equality with consistency. As long as everyone confines to the same rules and is held to the same standards no injustice is done, given that the...

Cited: Gagnon, Jeff, Mark Hendrickson, and Michael Parrish. "Excerpt from "Letters from Birmingham Jail" (1963)." Dimensions of Culture 2 Justice. United States of America: Cognella, Inc, 2014. 19-28. Print.
Gagnon, Jeff, Mark Hendrickson, and Michael Parrish. “"Susan B Anthony and her Speech, ‘Is it a Crime for a U.S. Citizen to Vote?’" (1873).” Dimensions of Culture 2 Justice. United States of America: Cognella, Inc, 2014. 81-89. Print.
"The Court & the Right to Vote: A Dissent." by John Paul Stevens. The New York Review of Books, n.d. Web. 2 Feb. 2014. .
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