In 1963, at the height of the Civil Rights revolution, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was leading demonstrations in Birmingham, Alabama. After a court order was issued forbidding demonstrations, King, who speaks obedience to law, decided for the first time to break an unjust law. On April 12, King was arrested for this violation and held unreachable for twenty-four hours. When he was allowed contact, he received a copy of the Birmingham Post Herald of April 13, which carried a public letter from eight local clergymen—Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish—calling the demonstrations “unwise and untimely.” While the clergymen opposed segregation, they urged patience.
The Civil Rights era was a time of great turmoil and injustice for African Americans, however, Martin Luther King brought forth a tremendous amount of change through his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” and his “I Have a Dream Speech”. Both documents demanded that the unjust treatment of African Americans had to change, as well heavily urged African Americans to remain peaceful and not resort to violence. King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” was an excellent example for demanding change since the primary message of King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” was calling forth white moderates along with the church to no longer sit on the sidelines and allow the injustices on African Americans to continue any further. The “Letter from Birmingham Jail” focused on discussing the morality of the unjust laws created, and differentiates between man-made law and moral law. This was specifically done to show white moderates that civil disobedience was not entirely a negative thing.
Segregation is the act of separating. In this essay, King is writing to the clergymen from jail that segregation is an unjust law. He went on to explain the difference between just and unjust laws. A just law is a “man-made code that squares with the moral law, or the law of God.” Simply put, a just law is a law that is universally practiced.
Banneker brings up the point that Jefferson believes in “the benevolence of the Father of mankind” and the rights “the Father” has put forth to everyone, however, Jefferson, “counteracts his [the Father’s] mercies” by allowing slavery. This then leads Banneker to the conclusion that Jefferson should logically be held accountable for a criminal act, since Jefferson fails to acknowledge the violence numerous people are experiencing. There is also a sense of irony, since Banneker mentions earlier that Jefferson stated “all men are equal” and yet Jefferson counteracts the equality “the Father” has placed upon people. In fact, this also leads to conveying guilt, considering Banneker is holding Jefferson accountable for his actions and showing Jefferson that he is in the wrong, not the
One slaveholder stated, “I believe this will help this slave problem go away.” However, Northerners are disgusted at this new law. One Northerner stated, “This act will ruin the balance between the non-slave states and the pro-slave states.” What do you think about this new act and how do you think this new act will affect this country?
He wants the people to realize just how hypocritical they are in what they proclaim compared to what they actually do. He does this when he says, “The existence of slavery in this country brands your republicanism as a sham, your humanity as a base pretence, and your Christianity as a lie.” Frederick Douglass exposes the evils of slavery by giving the people a slave’s perspective of their Fourth of July. He explains that Fourth of July is just another day to a slave, where he is reminded that he is a victim of abuse and inequality. He also discusses how slavery even damages society by saying it is the enemy of improvement/progress.
Douglass begins his letter with his intent, an elaborate and formal appeal to Douglass’ real audience: readers of the North Star to bring forth the atrocities caused not only by Auld but by slavery as a whole. Throughout the letter, Douglass refers to his treatment by Auld; further driving his point that slavery is terrible and that slaves deserve the same basic rights as those who own slaves. Douglass is quick to speak about his own experience as an escaped slave and his success outside of Auld’s ownership to help solidify that point further. Douglass occasionally does this specifically to belittle and call forward Auld’s actions, even referring to himself as more intelligent (Douglass 102). Throughout the letter, Douglass’ common theme is one of anti-slavery and often directly attacks Auld’s actions.
Men such as Ralph Waldo Emerson from Document D, and William Lloyd Garrison from Document E, fought tireless to spread their beliefs about the immoral nature of slavery. Emerson believed that the fugitive slave law contradicted the very Constitution it was protected by, as it took away the right to liberty and life. He felt that because the law is immoral and the constitution contradicted itself, the Union was coming to an end. William Lloyd Garrison shared similar views to that of Emerson, and refused to support a Constitution that protects slavery.
Within the introductory paragraph, Douglass relates that rather than express his gratitude for the abolishment of slavery, he leans to persuade and urge his audience to fight for the extension of the liberties described in the Declaration of Independence to all Americans. Douglass began by labeling Independence Day celebrations as inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony, questioning why he, one of many victims of legalized discrimination, was chosen to address the nation with devout gratitude for the independence granted to him. As the circular arrangement of his speech advanced, Douglass declared that he can not express felicity, when the shrilling wails of his people, those bound by society’s
Banneker first had Washington think about when “that time in which the arms and tyranny of the British Crown were exerted with every powerful effort in order to reduce you to a state of servitude” (1). This allows Washington to better understand the point Banneker is attempting to make about slavery due to the fact that he can relate to the past experience that he had. Thus invoking a sense of sympathy from him because of the similarities brought up between the two instances.
This movement had its roots in the centuries-long efforts of African slaves and their descendants to resist racial oppression and abolish the institution of slavery. Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American Baptist minister, activist, humanitarian, and leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement, he was one of the main leaders of this movement; the “Letter from Birmingham Jail” he wrote, was from a jail cell because he was given a penalty for parading without a permit. “Letter from Birmingham Jail” is addressed to several clergymen who had written an open letter criticizing the actions of King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference during their protests in Birmingham. Dr. King tells the clergymen that he was upset about their criticisms, and that he wishes to address their concerns. People can’t decide what race or color they want to be.
Ironic elements are evident in abundance throughout King’s speech which elicit an comical tone and draws on the reality of the war. King makes the nation appears as hypocrites because Americans pretend to fight as a united nation whereas segregation is among the same schools, the same neighborhood, the same country. The fact that “young black men are being sent [across the world] to fight for the liberties in Southeast Asia, which they [have] not found in Georgia and East Harlem” questions the validity of America’s founding principles of the unalienable rights of every individual; life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.