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A Critique to “Letter from Birmingham Jail”

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A Critique to “Letter from Birmingham Jail” After years of segregation and inequality, one man stood up and fought for what was right. This man spoke of dreams and for what he felt as morally right, ethically right, lawfully right and emotionally right. This man spoke of freedom, brotherhood and equality among all people, no matter what race they were. He brought forth facts and emotions to America that were being felt by the black community, which was being treated so badly. This man was Martin Luther King Jr., a clergyman and civil rights leader, who later was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work. King opened the eyes of America to a broader sense of understanding, to a wider view of the inequality and hate that almost every black person was having to live through at that time.

After several peaceful protests King was arrested for demonstrating in defiance of a court order, by participating in a parade, he was then taken to Birmingham jail. There in the jail, King wrote a letter to 8 fellow clergymen in response to a letter they published in a newspaper. King explained in the letter why he did the things he did, and why that had to be done the way that they were. King also tried to convince the clergymen to see his views, and to realize and accept the problem as a problem, not just a disturbance. King did this in talking about common ground that they all had, about beliefs that they all believed, and feelings that they all felt.

King relied on religion to help get compassion from the clergymen. Talking about what was morally and spiritually right, King tried to persuade the clergymen to look into their own hearts and find out what they felt was right. King used quotes of church apostles and even quotes out of the Bible for support of his dreams. For example, he talks about just and unjust laws and uses a quote by St. Augustine, a Christian philosopher and theologian, that says: “An unjust law is no law at all.” In this example, King uses a quote by a know Christian philosopher and uses it to promote his idea, knowing that the clergymen can’t just ignore the words of such a wise man. King used quotes by other known Christian philosophers and even prophets out of the bible to back up his feelings, knowing that the clergymen would understand and hopefully accept the point that King was trying to get across.

King consistently brought up the point of morality. Pointing out that certain things are moral and other things aren’t. For example King talked about having two different drinking fountains or having blacks sit at the back of the bus, saying that it just wasn’t morally right. And that morally right would be to have unity and brotherhood among all people.

Another way King talks on common ground with the clergymen is through emotions. King tries to have the clergymen sympathize toward the black community, showing them what life is really like on the other end of the spectrum. In part of the letter King talks about his daughter and what is experienced when she asks why she can’t do certain things, like go to a regular school, or go to the “amusement park that was just advertised on TV,” and had to tell her that black people aren’t allowed in there. Or what emotions go through your mind when you drive around for miles looking for somewhere to spend the night, only to end up sleeping in your car because black people weren’t allowed in the hotels.

King talks to the clergymen telling them of personal experiences that he has had throughout his life. Compassion toward the black community is Kings goal for the clergymen. King just wants to show the clergymen what really goes on the other side of the locked door of the grocery store. What feelings are felt when the black man is told that he cannot ride on this bus, because black people are filthy, even though that man may be wealthier than any white person on the bus. Basically King just wanted to help the clergymen realize that these black people are real people facing a real problem, and King wants his clergymen to accept this and know that it can be fixed with their help.

Overall, Dr. King was very effective in bringing his point across to the clergymen and it is obvious the he was a very powerful person in the aspect of letting others know how he felt about certain issues. King was a very dedicated leader and had an incredible way of presenting his dreams or ideas. Its almost like he made what he was trying to say “tangible,” letting you not only hear his words, but you could almost touch them, feel them and taste them. And not only did King make his words come alive to everyone, King persisted in everything he believed in. He didn’t let anyone change his mind on anything. Having the courage of persistence, I think, is the essence of leadership. King is still remembered today not only because he had “good ideas,” but because he related to not just the black people, and he was not only talking to the white people, but he spoke to everyone, touching everyone’s hearts and souls. Kings spirit and dedication is what made him a powerful leader and a extraordinary and incredible person.

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