Martin Luther King's Letter From Birmingham Jail

1340 Words6 Pages
On April 16, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote a letter from Birmingham Jail after he had been arrested for nonviolent protests. In this letter he addressed a few of his fellow clergymen who had commented on King’s work in Birmingham and how they perceived it to be “unwise and untimely.” He told them that he had, in fact, been issued an invitation to help the people of Birmingham and that he was “compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond [his] hometown.” King assured the clergymen that he and his comrades were using the proper approach and are thinking out their movements very carefully. He then gave the clergymen the reasons behind the laws that had been broken. King then moved into a section where he “called out” white moderates,…show more content…
This sentence was intended to make the white moderates feel truly guilty, almost dirty, for their lack of support. King was able to put so much emotion into a few sentences. He exuded copious amounts of disappointment in the white moderates that present day readers must also feel some amount of shame for what the people of the past did, or rather did not, do. King continued his guilt trip with one simple sentence, “Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection” (432). He used a single sentence to make the entire group of white moderates feel guilt for their lack of action. He stated that outright rejection made more sense to him than sideline acceptance. He showed that they would be better off shunning the movement completely instead of confusing everybody by showing half support occasionally. King did not hide his chagrin for their very limited support. He wanted their full support or nothing from them. King then circled back around to using shame as an appeal. He must have really wanted to push this feeling in deep because he said “ I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension of the South is merely a necessary phase of the
Get Access