Sociological Analysis of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail
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Sociological Analysis of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s
Letter from a Birmingham Jail
The paper analyses Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” from a sociological point of view and shows how three major theories (structural functionalism, social conflict, and symbolic interactionism) are treated in the letter. The paper shows different appreciation of King’s ideas and works by his contemporaries and modern people. It also explores the concepts of “nonviolent direct action” and “natural law” and determines their importance in the civil rights movement.
Keywords: Martin Luther King, Jr., “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”, nonviolent direct action, natural law, civil rights movement
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If they need medical assistance, they cannot go to the same hospital as whites. When they die, they are buried in different cemeteries. Families of color are forced to bring up their children in a humiliating and insulting atmosphere. The state and authorities, as one of social factors, support the racism. The clear examples were dishonest courts and cruel, inhuman actions of the police. Promises to restore justice and equalize the rights of white and colored residents do not mean anything. Church leadership prefers to stay aside the civil problems. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” clearly shows that the church acts in a cowardly manner concerning the issue of racism, supporting the state law, but not the moral one, which claims that all men are brothers. Such a mechanism of society does not function properly because all of its elements are deformed. The deformation is caused by the pressure of state authorities and lack of justice, which was caused by the social conflict. Birmingham can be called a hot spot, where the conflict between the white and colored population was on the brink between the peaceful actions and open battles. The long-lasting conflict influenced the symbolic interactionism. This theory shows that social interaction is based not on the way human beings sense their environment, but on the way they define the environment and each other. In this situation, the colored