He is threatened, harassed and even arrested throughout the civil rights movements he took part in. King becomes a pastor and a civil rights leader after receiving his Doctorate in Theology from Boston University in 1955 (King 566). In 1963, King is asked by the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights to organize the nonviolent protests in Birmingham, Alabama (King 567). These protests include such things as demonstrations, sit-ins, and marches against the racial segregation in Birmingham.
During the 1963 protest in Birmingham, King is arrested and Jailed for eight days. While in Jail, eight “white” Alabama clergymen publish a tenement calling King’s present activities “unwise and untimely’ (King 566). This is due to it being the start of the Easter season, which is one of the most profitable seasons for the merchants. The mayoral election is also coming up in March, 1963 (King 568). King replies to the men with a letter attempting to explain himself and his movement so that the clergymen will see they are all trying to reach a common goal for the community.
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In King’s letter he attempts to persuade the clergymen along with the “white moderate,” by using the appeal to ethics, logic and emotion that his retests and demonstrations will provide guidance with the racial segregation happening in Birmingham, Alabama. Penal first, King replies to the men by explaining the ethics behind why civil rights should be granted to African Americans, not Just in Birmingham, but throughout the nation. He begins by addressing the “white” clergymen and restates their comment calling his actions “unwise and untimely’ (King 566).
He replies with “Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas, but I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statements in what I pop will be patient and reasonable terms” (King 566). King explains that his organization the Southern Christian Leadership Conference has ties in Birmingham, Alabama and he is here to collect the facts and determine whether injustices exist. If injustices are found then something needs to be done about them.
It may be negotiation, self-purification or direct action, but it can’t be left alone, because injustice is here and “an injustice anywhere is a threat to Justice everywhere” (King 567). King’s goal is to bring freedom to other cities and awareness to the nation that glacial segregation is unjust and needs to be stopped. This is why King made the promise to the Alabama group that he would conduct and participate in the “nonviolent direct-action” demonstrations. King gladly takes part in the campaign, with all of the injustices of racial segregation, and racial violence that is occurring in Birmingham.
Next, in his letter King speaks about the logic behind the “nonviolent direct-action” demonstrations. King is being called an “outsider” by the clergymen, so he states that he’s not an “outsider” like they claim him to be (King 567). He says Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an “outsider” anywhere within its bounds” (King 567). The clergymen also say they “deplore” the demonstrations that took place in Birmingham, Alabama because they felt that their actions are extreme in nature and his people are acting out and disrupting the peace, instead of trying to negotiate with the city (King 573).
However, the clergymen failed to see that the Alabama Christian Leadership Conference had tried several times to use negotiation to get the results that they were aiming for, but the numerous negotiations it didn’t work. Either nothing was done about the issue or Penal 3 false promises were made. The merchants did make a promise to take down the humiliating racial signs, but they were only briefly removed and then returned, some merchants didn’t even take their signs down to begin with (King 568).
Because the negotiations didn’t work with the city of Birmingham, “nonviolent direct-action” was needed in order to get Justice for the black people of Birmingham and attempt to stop the racial segregation that was in full force. The “white” clergymen even categorized Kings actions those of an extremist, but they were nothing like the extremists the clergymen were speaking of. King and his followers are not extremists for hate, they are extremists for love of the people that are being segregated and love for God.
Additionally, King says that “oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever” (King 569). According to King’s past experience “freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed” (King 569). Kings way of demanding the freedom to be given was to get the “nonviolent direct-action” demonstrations, sit-ins and marches going. Martin Luther King Jar. , is a ere intelligent man and by putting himself on the same intellectual and religious level as the clergymen, he makes it hard for the clergymen to prove his point wrong.
His use of language shows the clergyman’s pretense on the racial segregation and by doing that; King is able to appeal to other groups that are not only biblical, but political as well. Just like the Socrates felt that it was necessary to create tension so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myth’s and half-truths, we see the need for nonviolent demonstrations to create the kind of tension in society that will alp the black man rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.
By doing this King has not alienated any of his readers, he instead has included the nonreligious groups by addressing concerns that fall outside religion, but still within the context his letter is based on. Together with ethics and logic behind the “nonviolent direct-action” demonstrations Kings speaks about his emotions behind them as well. In the beginning of King’s letter he mainly addressed the eight “white” clergymen and the “white moderate”, but s his letter progressed his tone changed Penal 4 and so does his language.
In the emotional sections he’s appealing to Black audiences, but also to the “white moderate” to show the harsh effects of racial segregation. King understood that not everyone has experienced racial segregation and racial violence in their life, but he did and he wants them to understand Just how he and other people felt about what was going on in Birmingham and other parts of the nation. King understood that people’s emotions about all of the racism could cause negative outcomes, but that’s why he and his people from the Southern
Christian Leadership Conference are there to help with the guidance of those emotions. King writes about personal stories that he had faced growing up and through his adult life. By doing this he dragged out the raw emotion that is found in us all and allowed his audience and the readers to feel the strength of the emotions. He writes “have you seen hate-filled police men curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters.. You suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek the words to explain to your six-year old daughter why she ant go to the public amusement park that Just advertised on television” (King 570). By choosing certain key descriptive words, King was able to connect to his audience by painting a vivid picture of what the black males and females young and old went through and how racial segregation and violence affected the lives of the African Americans in Birmingham, Alabama.
Lastly, Martin Luther King Jar. ‘s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” was intended for the eight “white” clergymen and the “white moderate” to show them that any type of racial segregation or violence is wrong or unjust and especially unnecessary. With Kings strong use of ethics, logic, emotions, and biblical references and even some past experiences he was able to get their attention. King needed them to see that regardless of race they were all equal to each other.
Because they were all intelligent men and fellow clergymen they should be trying to achieve the same goal of no racial segregation or racial violence. With their attention, King was able to share the emotional side of his argument to these men as well as the Birmingham, Alabama community. King’s wise usage of logic, emotion and imagery helped paint the sad, but very real and hard truth picture of he effects of racial Penal 5 segregation an violence in the minds of his readers.
By relating to all audiences in his letter, he was able to grab the attention of many and make his voice heard so that he could convince them that his “nonviolent direct- action” demonstrations were Just and needed not Just in Birmingham, Alabama, but in every state across the nation. After all is said and done King was able to lead the whole country to a different way of thinking. The type of thinking that is “Just” and fair. Without Kings views and ideas the United State would not be the place it is today.