English 101 Huntington
Critical Reading 3
Martin Luther King Jr. - Letter from Birmingham City Jail:
The letter from Birmingham jail was written by Martin Luther King Jr while he was in jail, speaking on the behalf of colored people and their fight for equality, and a call for unity regarding human injustices. King wrote this letter as a reaction to the allegations from the clergymen who had criticized his campaign. The clergymen wanted the fight for the issues by King to be done through the court system, not in the streets. In this letter, King responds to them in attempt to gain their support against racial discrimination, not only in the south, but nationwide. King wrote this letter in a way to gain trust and remorse from the clergymen, as he was Christian, and wanted to show them that under their shared religious belief, that racial discrimination was not acceptable in the eyes of God. This is his focus in his letter, to show equality and ...view middle of the document...
Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.” (p.203-204) Also, he shows the clergymen that he is complying with their wish for nonviolent action. “In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices are alive, negotiation, self purification, and direct action. We have gone through all of these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying of the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States.” (p.204) Later he says, “An unjust law is a code that a majority inflicts on a minority that is not binding on itself. This difference is made legal. On the other hand a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal.” (p.208) In this letter, he shows that he is not only educated in his religion, but as well as the laws his people stand together against.
I believe this letter was written very well. He shows that he knows what he is up against, and complete justice is far away, but shows that he is determined to obtain unity regardless of the consequences. He also shows that he will obey the law, and only break it when he feels it is wrong. King is a very well educated man and his writing is somewhat lengthy and hard to follow, but this was a big piece of his point. To show that he was smart and knew what he was talking about, in attempt to make himself equal to the white men that would read this letter, automatically judging and doubting him due to the color of his skin. This letter is very well written, and was overall a good read.
Thalidomide: a sedative drug that was discovered to cause birth defects.
Ordinance: An authoritative order; a decree.
Condemn: Express complete disapproval of, typically in public; censure
Repudiated: Refuse to accept or be associated with.
Oppressed: To keep down by severe and unjust use of force or authority