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A Letter From A Birmingham Jail Analysis

1377 words - 6 pages

A Letter From a Birmingham Jail
The Civil Rights Movement was a pivotal turning point in the battle for equal rights for African Americans. Among the many leaders and supporters of the movement, one of the most notable activists of all was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. King dedicated most of his life to the fight for equal rights. He did this through the use of nonviolent direct action. Although his actions were appreciated by many, just as many people were annoyed, offended, and disagreed with his actions. Consequently, King ended up in jail numerous times. However, upon his arrest in Birmingham, Alabama for demonstrating without a permit, King decided to utilize his time in jail to write a ...view middle of the document...

He influenced them into believing that his cause was a noble one.
Due to his protesting King was arrested. Dr. King was convicted due to demonstrating without a pass. Birmingham was one of the most segregated and racist cities in America at the time. However, King went there in order to support the movement and the fight for peace. King's arrest was also not a coincidence. Dr. King and his associates planned on marching and demonstrating during the Easter season due to it being a huge shopping time. Protesting during a time such as this calls the attention of all almost everyone, and this is exactly what was done by Martin Luther King Jr. King writes about this in his letter, “We decided to schedule our direct-action program for Easter, realizing that except for Christmas, this is the main shopping period of the year (King 2).” In other words, King is attempting to say that through the proper utilization of the Easter season and the masses, his protests went rather well considering that many people have now witnessed the cruelty that the African Americans and their supporters were subjected to almost regularly firsthand. Dr. King chose to go to Birmingham because he knew that the city needed him the most. This played a key role in the race for supporters. King's bravery and calmness in the face of danger was inspiring. Many onlookers and colored youths were influenced by his courage and saw this as a great way to fight for equality, and some even joined the movement in order to become like King.
Martin Luther initially wrote this letter in order to address the criticisms that some white clergymen subjected him to. The clergymen saw King as an extremist. At first King was upset about this label considering all the good that he is attempting to accomplish. However, King comes to accept the label, and even welcome it. Dr. King makes a biblical and historical connection to the title“extremist”. Martin Luther King Jr. believed that since Jesus, Lincoln, and Thomas Edison were labeled extremist for a plethora of reasons and actions, reasons and actions that were not really understood by all at the time that he must be in the same category as them. He believed himself to be a good and creative extremist, who was actually necessary to the ever-growing world. King had also believed that the actions of the white clergymen would not go unpunished. He writes, “But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before (King 6).” The church may or will be punished for turning their backs on Dr. King and his noble cause. King's intention was to use the criticisms that he received from the clergymen, and to use counterpoints in order to influence the thoughts of his fellow clergymen, and to persuade them into joining his side.
The comments made by the clergymen really struck a chord with King. He even states, “I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist (King 5).” Not only was King upset about his new label, but he was also...

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