Essay On Kings Letter From Birmingham Jail

Mr. Luther King's Letter From Birmingham Jail

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"Martin Luther King Jr.'s letter from Birmingham Jail, which was written in April 16, 1963, is a passionate letter that addresses and responds to the issue and criticism that a group of white clergymen had thrown at him and his pro- black American organization about his and his organization's non- violent demonstrative actions against racial prejudice and injustice among black Americans in Birmingham.

King writes the letter to defend his organization's actions and the letter is also an appeal to the people, both the white and black American society, the social, political, and religious community, and the whole of American society to encourage desegregation and encourage solidarity and equality among all Americans, with no stratifications according to racial differences. King's letter from Birmingham Jail addresses the American society, particularly the political and religious community of the American society.

Specifically, King's letter addresses three important groups in the American society: the white American political community, white American religious community, and the black American society. King addressed these communities as the primary groups wherein racial segregation is continuously proliferated (the white American political and religious community) and points much of his arguments to and for his fellow black Americans in the society.

King's main thesis in writing the Birmingham letter is that, racial segregation, or injustice to the black American society, is due to the continuous encouragement of the white American society, particularly the powerful communities in politics and religions. King defends his primary thesis all throughout the length of his letter, and the arguments that he has made to prove that his thesis is true and valid will be the focus of this rhetorical analysis.

In addressing and confronting the problem of injustices among the black Americans in the American society, particularly the violence that had happened in Birmingham, and generally, the inequality and racial prejudice happening in his American society, King argues his position by using both moral, social, and political references and logic for his arguments to be considered valid and agreeable.

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The response desired in his letter is agreement and appeal for the part of the white American society to abolish segregation and discontinue the injustices happening to his fellow black Americans, while King appeals to his black American fellow men for unity and solidarity, which is an essential factor for their cause to be achieved (that is, the prevention and eventual abolishment of racial prejudice, inequality, and injustice."



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“Letter From Birmingham Jail” Essay




Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. writes a letter to eight fellow clergymen that he titled “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” King wrote this letter while in jail in Birmingham. Within this letter he addresses the men who labeled his activities in Birmingham “unwise and untimely.” He goes over his activities and why they are in fact not “unwise and untimely.” In order to understand King’s concept of justice, let us examine his distinction between just and unjust laws, his disappointment in the church, and the danger of the “white moderate.”

King’s concept of justice is his distinction between just and unjust laws “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” was a question the King argues. “There are two different types of laws just and unjust.” Some people believed that an unjust law was not a law at all, but King felt otherwise. King felt “a just law was a manmade code that squares with the moral law of the law of God.” A just law is a code made by man that follows the moral code of conduct, or a code followed in the eyes of God. “An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law.” The moral code of conduct is what makes up both just and unjust laws. There are many different ways that King explains the difference between just and unjust laws. He claims how segregation is an unjust law to him because it “distorts that soul and damages the personality.” It seemed as if most unjust laws were inflicted on the minority more than anyone else. “As unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself.” Moreover, King saw more unjust being done rather than just laws towards the minorities, and discussed his distinction between just and unjust laws.

King points to the church’s failure to step into the breach and teach its members the evil segregation laws and disobeying them is an act of justice. King believed in the church but became disappointed with them. He wanted to clarify that he was not saying that he was just like the “negative critics that judged the church.” He was a “minister of the gospel”, and loved the church. During a protest in Montgomery, Alabama he felt that the church would be one of his “strongest allies”, but they were not. To King the church was “refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leaders.” Feeling as if they have became just as unjust as everyone else is the main reason he became disappointed with them. Segregation was a major issue that King explains the church refused to recognize. Additionally, with the church not supporting his as he believed they should he addresses them as to why he was disappointed. By pointing out their failures he was teaching its members the evil segregation laws and that disobeying them is an act of justice.

According to King, the “white moderate” poses a very real threat to justice by their refusal to recognize the rectitude of disobeying unjust laws. They are supposed to be people who understand the law and uphold it. King is disappointed with the “white moderate” because he felt that they “would understand that the law and order exists for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose there becomes a dangerously structured dam that block the flow of social progress.” The segregation law caused a lot of conflict between both King and the “white moderate.” There were many things that were being over looked by them which King did not agree with. There was “tension in the south [that was] a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality.” Furthermore, King was disappointed with the “white moderate” because with their high power they did not try to recognize the real threat all he got was their refusal to recognize the rectitude of disobeying unjust laws.

Therefore in order to understand King’s concept of justice, we examined his distinction between just and unjust laws, his disappointment in the church, and the danger of the “white moderate.” King advised the clergyman of the issues he saw and were told about in Birmingham. He explained why is visit was in fact not “unwise and untimely”, but very much needed. Kings visit was to help them was to help them see what they were trying to ignore and decided to turn their backs on. His visit to Birmingham was to help his people and help those who did not see the truth to recognize it.




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