Letter From Birmingham Jail By Martin Luther King Jr.

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It was 1963, a time of deep segregation and prevalent racism in America, especially in Birmingham, Alabama. Martin Luther King, Jr. decided to hold a nonviolent direct action demonstration in Birmingham in hopes of opening negotiations to better circumstances for colored people and ended up being detained in solitary confinement. He receives a letter from several notable clergy members who admonish his actions in Alabama and accuse him of being an untimely extremist that has caused violence in Birmingham, intended or not. After King receives the letter, he refutes and addresses the clergy members' criticisms of his actions. In his “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” iconic American civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. alludes to the …show more content…

King alludes to several Biblical and historical figures and events in order to justify his actions and decisions. Take, for example, how King refers to Jesus as an extremist for love by recounting the verse, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (King). Dr. King challenges the clergymen’s claims of being extremist by highlighting that Jesus himself was an extremist because Jesus was an important religious figure not only in Christianity but the world which exemplifies Dr. King’s actions and nonviolent demonstrations and refutes the clergymen’s claims of being extremist. King also makes sure to capture the feelings of all Americans, not just the religious, by suggesting that Abraham Lincoln was also an extremist when he said the words “This nation cannot survive half slave and half free” (King). Dr. King challenges the clergymen’s negative connotation of being an extremist by noting that Lincoln’s philosophies would have been considered extremist at the time, and how those extremist ideas lead to the abolishment of slavery because Lincoln was a popular and notable US president whose actions had a resemblance to what King was trying to achieve. All of this would move the Clergymen and individuals facing oppression to persuade more people to join and involve themselves in the Civil Rights movement because he compares his work with influential figures of history and religion that will resonate more with residents of Alabama and

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