Letter from Birmingham Jail Essay
This is a letter that was written from solitary confinement by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this letter was written in a time when racism had taken center stage in Birmingham, racial prejudice against African-Americans where they were violently assaulted. The reason that prompted King to be arrested and confined in this confinement is because he was engaged in an anti-segregation march on a parade that he had no permit. Dr. King had called for some religious figures for support who responded by publishing a letter entitled ‘A call for Unity’ that was very critical for the king and his followers. The letter from Birmingham jail is a response to the collective letter written by this religious figures. King identified nine criticism that that the religious figures made, therefore, the structure of his letter revolves around this nine criticism.
In the letter King tries to explain why he was in Birmingham, he explains that he is not supposed to interfere with the city of Birmingham as an outsider (Rottenberg and Winchell, 2011). The arguments that he gives as to why he was in Birmingham at that particular moment despite the fact that he was not a permanent residence seems not to be convincing enough. He claimed in the letter that any injustice that takes anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Such assertion does not seem to be true since if he didn’t interfere with Birmingham’s affairs he couldn’t be arrested. He also compares himself with Paul the apostle, he claimed that he should carry the gospel beyond hos place of origin. Therefore, he should not lament about his arrest since he was prepared to face the consequences that a martyr incurs.
The other allegation that the white clergy made was that it was wrong to pass a point through public demonstration. It is true that public demonstration are not the best way to put a point across especially if the demonstration is not done in a peaceful manner. It can be argued that the demonstrations were wrong but king was left with no other option since the system in Birmingham was not conducive for any other option Rottenberg and Winchell, 2011). He broke the law to make sure that his point was heard, which it was very ironic since he was a leader who advocated for human right and despised breaking the law. The clergy tried to explain to King that negotiation is a better path as compared to direct action. In his response to this assertion e explains that he didn’t take a direct action, all he did was to dramatize racism to make everyone talking. The dramatization according to him was supposed to create a creative tension, which is very contradictory since any form of tension can result to violence.
The clergy also claimed that the Negro community should wait and should not hasten the process of moving towards civil rights. King responded by claiming that freedom has never been given by the oppressor voluntarily. This argument that King gives is very valid in the contemporary society, and the oppressed should not wait to be given freedom on a silver platter. Today incidences of excessive violence that sometimes result to death from the police to African-American community is hitting the news rooms frequently. This is why the demonstrations carried out to condemn police oppression to the black community is very justifiable. Therefore, any injustice should be condemned with all the necessary means available even if it means demonstrating.
Sometimes law breaking is a moral act as King suggested. In this contemporary society there are some situations that will call for law breaking especially if it is a situation that is degrades the dignity of human beings (Rottenberg and Winchell, 2011). There are occasion when the political class don’t respect fundamental of human rights, in such instances the society should not be afraid to break any law prescribed at that moment. Today global warming is an issue that is has caught the attention of the whole world. The future generations is at stake and their sustainability is questionable. In such an instance there is nothing wrong if one was to going to break the law to protect the environment. The contemporary society should be in a position to confront the society to demand for social justice. Some political class are not honest, they are hypocrites and should be condemned even if they claim that the course will breed violence.
Rottenberg, A. T. and Winchell, D.H., (2011). “Elements of Argument: A Text and Reader.” 10th ed. Boston, M.A. Bedford/St. Martin’s.