Birmingham Jail

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Analysis of “Letter from A Birmingham Jail.”
“Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively” (MLK 5). On April 12th, 1963 eight Alabama Clergymen made a public statement regarding Martin Luther King, Jr.’s protests in Birmingham. They referred to the protests as unwise, untimely, and as an act to precipitate violence. They ask for the Negro community to withdraw support from the protests, stating that they are counterproductive to creating peace in Birmingham. Four days after the Clergymen made their statement Martin Luther King Jr. felt compelled to act upon their grievances by replying with a letter titled “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” while he was incarcerated on account of the protests. King …show more content…

begins the letter by addressing the Clergymen respectfully, stating that they are “men of genuine good will” (MLK 1) so he felt that it was only right to address their concerns and grievances formally. He first explains that he is in Birmingham because he couldn’t just sit there and do nothing when injustice had been plaguing the city, writing that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” (MLK 1). King determined that Birmingham is engulfed in racial injustices, that it is one of the most segregated communities in the nation. The negroes living in Birmingham experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts and that there have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches there than any other city in the nation. King writes that on account of such horrid conditions he found it necessary to first speak with the local merchants in order to try and rid of segregational signs and propaganda in hopes of eliminating some of the causes of the extreme inequality they experienced in their day to day lives in Birmingham. Several negotiations had taken place in order to try and resolve the conflicts without the need for direct action, but sadly the promises made to them were broken and that is when they felt the need to begin protesting. MLK then stresses the importance of protesting, saying that “nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is …show more content…

He arrived in Birmingham with the hopes that the white religious leadership in the community would see the pressing nature of their cause and serve as the channel that would allow their grievances to reach the power structure. He had high hopes that each member in the church would understand their issues and try to help their fellow christian brothers with their fight for a much needed change, but again he was disappointed. “In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churchmen stand on the sideline and mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities” (MLK 7). He then continues to say that the churches conformity to the status quo and their negligence of the civil rights movement has made the contemporary church weak. King then writes of his disposition with the church, asking “Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world?” (MLK 8). But regardless of the churches that won’t partake in the civil rights movement he knows that they will inevitably reach their goal of freedom. “because the goal of America is freedom” (MLK

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