Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” emphasizes the need for civil disobedience when faced with unjust laws. This idea contradicts Socrates’ claim made in Crito, that one must follow the law under all circumstances. In this paper, I will argue that Socrates is not a proponent of civil disobedience based on King’s definition of civil disobedience and Socrates’ charges. Moreover, I will argue that both Socrates and King disagree with one another based on the concept of civil disobedience—breaking the law and rejecting certain ideals.
In his essay "Letter from Birmingham Jail", Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. disproves the assumptions of people that believe racism is acceptable when he compares the maltreatment of blacks to the inhumane treatment of the Jews by Hitler. King establishes a relationship with his audience by connecting on a level that is larger than the exploitation of African American's rights. He forces his readers to think about the execution of millions of Jews that was ordered by Hitler. He makes it logically apparent in his letter that just because segregation is a law, it does not mean that it is just. These strong words by King help establish a common ground between
As a well respected preacher and advocate for nonviolence, Dr. King focused on freedom signifying being seen as an equal, but he was patient and forgiving in achieving this, which ultimately hurt his cause as he continually faced the same challenges after seeing no results followed by no change in his course of action. The overall tone of his letter from the Birmingham Jail is apologetic as if he needs to explain his actions because their purpose is unclear and he is at fault. He relates and reasons with the clergymen whom he addressed his letter to, “I feel that you are men of genuine good will and your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I would like to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms”(p. 24). Within the first paragraph he has submitted to their
It was change created by a human for the human, a change which made the life of others livable. During the civil rights movement in America in 1960’s various techniques were used to gain the civil rights for the black people in a series of which came the “Letter form Birmingham jail” written by Martin Luther King himself. King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail" was a profound and persuasive written argument which captured the emotions of many people encompassing rigid life experiences, educated observances, and deeply rooted spiritual beliefs. In this letter King freely expressed his position concerning the injustice that black people faced in America. This injustice was segregation for the system of laws and customs separating blacks and
Martin Luther King Jr. expresses his views for obeying “Just” laws, while disregarding “Unjust” laws because of moral purposes. In the “Letter from Birmingham Jail” Dr. King speaks on how he “Urge people to obey laws,” as well as “urge them to disobey segregation ordinances”. “I agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.” Dr. King’s reason for following certain laws and not others is because he believes there are two types of laws. Just laws are beneficial to all races and “Is the man-made code that squares with the moral law or the Law of God”, unjust laws neglects certain human races needs and personalities and “Is not rooted in eternal law and natural law.” Dr. King does not disapprove Supreme Court decisions, yet if it involves segregation he feels as though it “Distorts the soul and damages the personality.” Dr. King states, “Segregation is not only politically, economically, and sociologically unsound, it is also morally wrong and sinful.” At this point, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is past describing how segregation affects people, but is now saying how segregation for example affects the political system such as denying Negroes the right to vote. “Throughout Alabama all sorts of devious methods are used to prevent Negroes from becoming registered voters.” Negroes make up the majority population in the counties of Alabama “Not a single Negro is
While I was reading Dr. King’s letter his main thesis to me was the fact that he was trying to protest peacefully and make amends with the clergyman. He was taken into jail where he had to explain himself writing this letter so that they will understand why he decided to take such actions. The worst part is that he was trying to make his point across to this man when he was doing nothing wrong just expressing his concerns as any other citizen, but not even a peaceful protest was allowed back then. Dr. King was trying to make society understand that black people are human too who have values and deserve to be treated like every other person.
King combines the use of ethos and pathos as he compares himself and the rights of men to religious backgrounds. His first comparison is with the Apostle Paul, where Paul had “carried the gospel of Jesus Christ,” as to Kings carrying of “the gospel of freedom.” King addresses this similarity to show why he felt committed to go to Birmingham, because like Paul, he needed to respond as an aid to his people. Towards the end of Kings letter; he exemplifies courageousness in the Negro demonstrations by relating them to the actions of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego when they refused to follow what they believed to be unjust laws. Saying that if they are supposed heroes by going against unjust laws, why shouldn't the people see Negro demonstrators the same way? They are also God's children and by those disobedience’s, they were really showing the grace of God. These connections to religion supports their fighting against unjust laws as a divine cause.
In conclusion, Martin Luther King used various words and phrases within his concluding paragraphs in order to pull the emotions of the audience to sympathize his states. Also to understand the sacrifices that he has made towards the civil right. The repetition of "I" and brotherhood in order to connect with the reader and himself. Martin Luther King's purpose in writing the "letter from Birmingham Jail" was to explain and also, refute the clergymen's accusations and claims in their written statement. a lot of contradictory terms and words to show that he's not on anyone is side and sees things both ways. Martin Luther King used a lot of religion words such as pray, prayers, God, Christian, in order to pull towards the readers emotions with
Dr. Martin Luther King wrote a letter from Birmingham jail on April 16, 1963. The letter was written in response to his “fellow clergymen,” stating that Dr. King’s present activities was “unwise and untimely.” The peaceful protest in Birmingham was perceived as being extreme. The letter from Birmingham Jail was a letter of grievance to the white clergy, and their lack of support in the civil rights movement. Dr. King explained in his letter the difference between what is just and what is unjust and his reasons being in jail at Birmingham. He believed clergymen are men of genuine good will and that they deserve a response, so Martin Luther king wrote a letter from Birmingham Jail.
The author, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., wrote this letter in an effort to stifle the plight of injustice that has taken over the city of Birmingham. Also, King wrote this letter "in response to a public statement of concern and caution issued by eight white religious leaders of the South" (King). These men, called the Birmingham clergymen, published an open letter criticizing the actions of Dr. King and the SCLC. Also, King is talking to the people who represent the power class and dominant group, but shows that they support the foundations of justice. As the letter progresses, King makes it clear that the audience is a much larger group, particularly white and Christian. Throughout the letter, King plays toward Christian morality by continually asking whether "just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law, or the law of God" (King) ? and ends the essay by asking God to forgive him if he has offended anyone. By continually showing his faith in God, King strategically tries to connect with the so called "Christians" that the Birmingham clergymen claim themselves as. To achieve this, King structured and
Martin Luther King Jr. directed his letter to the white clergymen of Birmingham, in a response to their newspaper article criticizing him for his actions. At the
Martin Luther King Jr. writes the Clergymen that have written him a letter disputing his actions in Birmingham. King is disturbed and offended by the Clergymen disagreeing with his purpose in Birmingham. King say he normally does not respond to criticism because it would waste to much precious time, but since these were men of good will he wanted to give his answers to their statements. In King's letter he appeals to many emotions as pathos, ethos, and logos to appeal to his audience.
In King’s essay, “Letter From Birmingham Jail”, King brilliantly employs the use of several rhetorical strategies that are pivotal in successfully influencing critics of his philosophical views on civil disobedience. King’s eloquent appeal to the logical, emotional, and most notably, moral and spiritual side of his audience, serves to make “Letter From Birmingham Jail” one of the most moving and persuasive literary pieces of the 20th century.
Credibility and ethics are one of the first things noted in King’s letter, and the presentation of it helps the reader to carry on reading the letter with open-mindedness and trust that King will continue to sincerely explain the reasons for the letter and the protest. Also, he establishes his credibility in the second paragraph by responding to the clergymen’s view that he was an outsider coming in. Similarly, King institutes his credibility by revealing that he is the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference which was an organization working in every southern state. Martin Luther King Jr. also appeals to ethos by even stating the clergymen’s views throughout his letter, which, of course embodies the alternative to his views. People have respect and trust for King which is proof of his reliability, as one man writes, “I believe Luther's actions truly reflect his belief that all people should be equal. His actions also show his commitment to the movement and the fact that this man was a leader” (Akerman 1).
Meanwhile, Dr. King also appeals to the logical side of the men within the letter, to lead them to the bigger picture of the injustice faced by African-Americans during this era. Dr. King uses facts and United States laws to prove that his actions were not untimely but in contrast these actions were overdue and that in fact he was not an outsider, but rather an invited guest.“So I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here, I am here because I have organizational ties here. But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.” (King) He goes on by saying “Then, last September, came the opportunity to talk with leaders of Birmingham's economic community. In the course of the negotiations, certain promises were made by the merchants --- for example, to remove the stores’ humiliating racial signs. On the basis of these promises, the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and the leaders of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights agreed to a moratorium on all demonstrations. As the weeks and months went by, we realized that we were the victims of a