Letter from Birmingham Jail Narrative Essay

Published: 2021-07-01 08:21:50
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Category: Justice, Letter From Birmingham Jail

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In 1963 eight clergymen advised Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that his street protests to end racial segregation was “unwise and untimely. ” Racial injustice, they agreed did exist, however thought it would be better to handle the issue with patience and through the judicial system. King responded to the criticism in his Letters from the Birmingham Jail. The first criticism that he addresses is being called an “outsider. ” Dr. King answers in many ways to support why he is in Birmingham to begin with.
He tells the clergymen that he is the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and was invited by affiliates of the organization. Moreover, King did not consider himself as an outsider because he believed that as long as he was living within the bounds of the United States, he couldn’t be labeled an outsider. He tells them that to be more specific he is there because injustice is there. And that he feels he is relationship with all communities and states he will not sit idly in Atlanta and ignore what was going in Birmingham.
He compares himself to the prophet Apostle Paul to show the importance of spreading the gospel of freedom. Secondly, he dealt with the demonstrations being called “untimely. ” Martin responds with several reasons as to why it was indeed a befitting time for direct action. The most passionate reason is that Birmingham was the most segregated city in the United States. It was overrun with racial injustice. Black people had experienced discrimination in the courts and had their homes and churches bombed. Even with dealing with these disparities, black leaders tried to negotiate but the city fathers refused.



Another reason was because Birmingham’s merchants did not respond to initial negotiations to remove humiliating racial signs. He says that though they did remove a few signs, they soon after returned. He decided to move during the Easter Holiday because this would be the second largest shopping season besides Christmas and would put much needed pressure on the Merchants. Protestors, King explained, had postponed the demonstration because of elections and they felt that they delayed action long enough.
He goes on to state that it’s without a doubt that they did not give the new administration time to act. He makes it clear that the new mayor Mr. Albert Boutwell is a segregationist just like his predecessor Mr. Conner. He says that “Justice too long delayed is justice denied,” and that they had waited “340 years our constitutional and God-given rights. ” King moves on to answer the charge of breaking the law. King was willing and urged people to obey the 1954 Supreme Court decision that outlawed segregation in public schools.
But then he also stated that people had a moral responsibility to disobey laws that were unjust. He went on to give definitions to distinguish between the two. He says” A just law is man-made that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code out of harmony with the moral law. ” He agrees with St. Augustine that “An unjust law is no law at all. ” He points out different scenarios in which he would break the law by comparing the acts of Adolf Hitler to those of Hungarian freedom fighters. It was legal for Hitler to torture Jewish people and illegal for someone to help them.
Martin says that had he lived during that time he would have helped his Jewish brothers in which he would have been supporting disobeying antireligious laws. He was willing to accept punishment for breaking the unjust law to alert the community. He viewed this as an individual’s way of expressing his respect for law. On the accusation that he was an extremist he answers by saying “ Was not Jesus an extremist for love: Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. He was proud to be an extremist thought fought for love, truth and goodness Just as Jesus did.
He believed that this is what the world needed to end segregation and for the fair treatment of black people. Martin Luther King Jr. and W. E. B Dubois had very similar ideologies concerning racial injustices. Like King, Dubois didn’t believe the Blacks should sit idle and wait for the oppressor to give God given rights. They both knew that being angry simply was not enough. They both formed groups and pushed for immediate rights to vote, to education and equality.

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