Dr. Martin Luther King 's Letter From Birmingham Jail

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On April 16, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote what has become known as the “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” A long document, it was addressed to Birmingham’s local clergymen because they had been critical of his work and ideas. Dr. King believed their criticism was in good faith, and pointed out that he was in Birmingham because he had been invited by the local affiliate of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, showing the religious commonalities between himself and the clergymen. However, his presence in Birmingham was not only, or even primarily, because of the invitation, but rather because he felt there was such terrible racial injustice in Birmingham that it merited national attention. Dr. King explained that although he…show more content…
King believed that his movement and method of nonviolent protest could include both of these groups. He offered a constructive approach to both of these groups to fight against segregation and bigotry whereby nobody got hurt. To Dr. King, it was especially important that he be seen as a genuine member of the black community in Birmingham to further his appeal and heighten his ability to bring people together. Bigger obstacles than simply being an outsider lay ahead of Dr. King An important step in Birmingham was to address the local clergymen’s concerns that his activism was creating too much tension. He was heavily criticized for staging marches and sit-ins rather than negotiating peace with the local authorities, and he was quite willing to admit that negotiation was a worthwhile way to achieve a goal. However, he also subscribed to the legal maxim that justice delayed is justice denied, meaning that if an injury is not redressed in a timely fashion, it is the same as having no redress at all. Dr. King also felt that negotiation would not lead to true change, and would only lead to appeasement. He penned, “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” (King, 2). He understood that as hard as he worked against violence, it was necessary to create nonviolent tension in order to achieve his goal of equal rights for Blacks in America. He was also not afraid of tension that
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