Advanced English Composition
October 6, 2015
Begging from Behind Birmingham Bars Injustice is here. Injustice should not be normal. Injustice is the reason I have been imprisoned. One of the foremost advocators for desegregation and equal rights for all races, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. writes a letter to stress to the world that, while some choose to ignore the injustices being done against the African American race, he will continue fighting for equality no matter what, even when he is in prison for doing just that. He weaves together an emotional web, drawing his audience in with vivid and sometimes horrifying pictures of oppression inflicted upon the black race and detailing his past experiencing these abuses and the past …show more content…
By using this expert to help relate to his audience, he demonstrates that he has studied American culture’s past before determining that these injustices will be difficult to extinguish and it will be a struggle to change the status quo. Trying to put a definition to “just” and “unjust” and also putting a face to the fight of inequality, Dr. King still finds ways to establish reasons to listen to him. Using the simplest of logic and some current political knowledge to communicate that he does indeed know what he is talking about, King follows the history of the vote in Alabama, saying that the state has found several methods to prevent the Negroes from voting, including having several counties not have “a single Negro registered to vote, despite the fact that the Negroes constitute a majority of the population” (3). King also asks if “any law set up in such a state [can] be considered democratically structured?” (3). By showing that he observed the current conditions of democracy in the country, he puts himself into the position of a scientist observing an experiment, and a scientist comes from a position of power and tries to approach with an unbiased opinion. When trying to defend his actions in Birmingham and addressing the fact that the church as a whole has yet to deal with the injustice being done to the black race across America, Dr. King continues to use specific details to
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The constraints create common ground for many of the Negro community while further separating those against it. Lastly, the exigence of this piece of text clearly defines the problems of social injustice many Negros face either in the state of Alabama or in surrounding states. It is perceived as a problem because the injustices are gradually growing larger, to a point where the Negro community must not let the problem go on any longer.
In paragraphs 12-14 of “Letter From Birmingham Jail”, Dr. King begins addressing the clergymen’s belief that the peaceful demonstrations conducted by him and his associates were untimely. King starts answering questions frequently heard by opposing or moderate forces, as well as essentially denouncing the resistance to desegregation. King then introduced the relationship between the oppressor and the oppressed; concluding that the oppressor is not inclined to act on things that do not directly affect them. Therefore, providing a platform of his argument as to why blacks could no longer wait to be given their basic human rights. Action needed to take place because fair treatment was no longer a hope to be given, it had to be taken.
King differentiates between just and unjust laws, eliminating any argument as to what his letter is referring to. He quotes St. Thomas Aquinas: “An unjust law is a code that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law.” By precisely defining the difference between just and unjust laws, King makes it difficult for anyone to refute his argument that segregation is not a law to be followed. King points out that while segregation may be legal, that does not necessarily mean that it is morally right. A majority of legislation passed did not include the votes of minorities, which contradicts the direct foundation of the country, as outlined by the Constitution, something that even the strongest segregationist must respect. King ends his argument with a resonating rhetorical question: “Can any law enacted under [morally wrong] conditions be considered democratically structured?” This question guides readers to the logical conclusion that with segregation, laws passed disregarding the votes of minorities, comes the fall of democracy, a fall with drastic repercussions as a country in which laws are passed to suppress minorities and benefit only the majority is no country at
Martin Luther King Jr. also seeks to further his point logically by explaining to the people of Birmingham that most places in the United States aren’t segregated to the extent that Birmingham is. He also makes a point to say Birmingham’s “ugly record of police brutality is known in every section of the country” and that “it’s unjust treatment of Negroes in the courts is a notorious reality“ (King 233). King also states “there have been more unsolved bombings in Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than any city in this nation” (King 233). By making the statements that no other city treats African Americans as badly as Birmingham and that the injustice that is taking place in Birmingham is a reality that everyone throughout the country is aware of, King
In the Letter from Birmingham Jail, Dr. King demonstrates the need for extreme action by depicting Birmingham’s dire future if the Clergymen continue to simply wait for the city to change. He claims that without extreme action one of two possible scenarios will play out, either nothing will ever change in Birmingham and people will continue to suffer under injustice, or worse, the African American community in Birmingham will be forced to resort to violence in order to accomplish their goal of equality. In the quote “millions of Negroes will… seek solace and security in a black nationalist ideology - a development that would inevitably lead to a frightening racial nightmare,” Dr. King demonstrates the consequences of the clergymen condemning his protest by explaining that his protests are the only way for many of the African American people to work out their frustrations, and without them, the majority of the black populace in Birmingham has no way to release its
Some privileged people disregard the violence against the oppressed people to develop a sense of safety. They hide behind their entitlement and exemption; ignoring the rest of the people that are suffering around them. Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his famous letter, “A Letter From Birmingham Jail” in response to the criticism that was expressed by eight prominent white clergyman. He wrote the letter to battle injustice and oppression against African Americans during the events of the Civil Rights movement. His letter was written decades apart from Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Letter to my Son,” however, both letter still reflects the ongoing events of today’s society. Coates’ letter, written on 2015, portrays a black American father writing to his son and fears that however hard he protects him from the street, encourages him to work in school, and do the right thing, the color of his skin, will always make him vulnerable. King and Coates’ letter both appeal to the broader public to inform them of the institutional racism in America. King focuses on the immorality of the church in order to justify the cause of the power structure that racism reinforce. Both authors expose the injustices of the legal system to support their indictment of the systemic racism in America.
When he was arrested and jailed in Birmingham, Alabama he then fell under criticism by white clergy for coming to Birmingham as an “outsider” to cause trouble and increase tension through public sit-ins and marches. I feel that Martin Luther King was able to both set aside that criticism by establishing his credibility to have not only been invited to come to Birmingham to help end the injustice to the Negro people via peaceful means, but he was able to identify moral, legal and ethical cause to promote his quest to put a stop to what he identified as “the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States” (King, 2017, p, 3). I will provide a summary that will show what Martin Luther King believed were the cause of the injustice that he was striving to end to as well as his concern over the white community’s ability to make the Negro “wait for more than three hundred and forty years for our constitutional and God-given rights.”
In Birmingham, Alabama between 1957 and 1962 seventeen black churches and homes had been bombed, racial tension continued to grow, and more and more African Americans were being killed. Although the population of Birmingham was 40% African American, there seemed little hope for a political solution to the racial divide; of 80,000 registered voters, only 10,000 were black due to a barrier that was placed on the new state constitution of Alabama. One of these barriers was an annual poll tax that had to pay for two years before the new election season. African Americans in Mississippi could barely afford the necessities in order to live such as food, clothes, and a roof over their head. African Americans were the poorest part of Mississippi’s population. The other barrier that was placed in the new state constitution was a literacy test. It required a person seeking to register to vote to read a section of the state constitution and explain it to the county clerk, a white man, who processed voter registrations. This new law was setup for African Americans to fail. Along with many other civil rights leaders and members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Dr. Martin Luther King traveled to Birmingham, Alabama to lead and participate in several boycotts, marches, and picketing leading up to Dr. Martin Luther King’s arrest. While being incarcerated, Dr. King wrote an open letter more known as The “Letter from Birmingham Jail”. In this letter, King highlights many
Colored people in King’s time were not granted that luxury, “Throughout all of Alabama all sorts of devious methods are used to prevent Negroes from becoming registered voters, and there are some counties in which, even though Negroes constitute a majority of the population, not a single Negro is registered.” It's easy to keep the oppressed people oppressed if they can’t even vote on matters that deeply concern them. America has, and still does, prided itself on being a democracy. With injustice like this creeping at every corner, it would have been dishonest for America to call itself a democracy in that
Martin Luther King Jr. speaks to 20,000 individuals on May 17, 1957. The “Give Us the Ballot” address was announced at the Lincoln Memorial steps in Washington D.C at the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom. King gives his speech to signal the audience to realize who they are voting for, for both political parties have betrayed justice. The speech is directed to the members of the civil rights, the church, the government, the African Americans, and the officials who support giving African Americans the right to vote. The implied audience of the speech is the ones who don’t want to hear it, or the ones in opposition to giving blacks the right to vote.
Martin Luther King Jr’s “Letter in Birmingham Jail” rebuts some of the arguments that white clergymen make about his recent actions
Niebuhr strongly emphasizes realities in the democratic process which impede any kind of quick abolition of segregation and quick passage of anti-discrimination laws. And given these realities, patience and faith are commended to African Americans in order to sustain them through this transition. Here, he also gives content to how this gradual shift will take place, citing Martin Luther King’s argument that suffrage will make way for all other changes. “In the memorable Prayer Pilgrimage to Washington,” Niebuhr remembers, “the youthful Negro champion, the Rev. Martin Luther King, wisely insisted that if only our democracy would give the Negro the elemental right of suffrage, all other injustice would be eliminated in time and would be eliminated without violence. Dr. King 's logic is certainly irrefutable.” Niebuhr agrees with King. However long the process may take, once voting rights are achieved, “all other injustice would be eliminated in time” and “without violence.”
King fought for equal rights, liberty, and freedom. In his speech King said, “But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free”. The problem in America is clearly stated in this quotation. During the time of discrimination it benefits King as a Civil Right leader because King and his supporters’ wanted an immediate change rather than a slow change. One of the examples that the King has stated in his speech using deductive logic is that all American citizens have equal rights; all African Americans are US citizens, and therefore, through these two premises, we can conclude that all African Americans are being
In 1963 Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested and sent to jail because he and others were protesting the treatment of blacks in Birmingham, Alabama. A court had ordered that King could not hold protests in Birmingham. Birmingham in 1963 was a hard place for blacks to live in. King was arrested by not following an unjust law. " Let me give another explanation. An unjust law is a code inflicted upon a minority which that minority had no part in enacting or creating because it did not have the unhampered right to vote. Who can say that the legislature of Alabama, which set up the segregation laws was democratically elected? Throughout the state of Alabama all types of conniving methods are used to prevent Negroes from becoming registered voters, and there are some counties without a single Negro registered to vote, despite the fact that the Negroes constitute a majority of the population. Can any law set up in such a state be considered democratically structured? These are just a few examples of unjust and just laws. There are some instances when a law is just on its face and unjust in its application. For instance, I was arrested Friday on a charge of parading without a permit. Now, there is nothing wrong with an ordinance which requires a permit for a parade, but when the ordinance is used to preserve segregation and to deny citizens the First Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and peaceful protest, then it becomes unjust." King has always had a different take on unjust
2. Martin Luther King makes the statement that “white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative” (King). He proves this when he says “As in so many past experiences, our hopes had been blasted, and the shadow of deep disappointment steeled upon us… a law is unjust it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had no part in enacting the devising the law.” (King) But at the end of the day the proof was all around them in Birmingham, African-Americans were clearly not treated properly during the time, and especially not in the Deep South. The statement is not debatable because it is fact, African-Americans were denied the right to vote, and laws were in place that favored white people more than they did blacks.