Nonviolent Protest In Letter From Birmingham Jail

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1963 could be considered the peak of the civil rights movement- with protests in Birmingham, the March on Washington, and the surfacing of Martin Luther King Jr.'s ground-breaking pieces "I Have A Dream" and "Letter from Birmingham Jail," the demand for civil rights had become a genuine American crisis. Dr. King wrote "Letter from Birmingham Jail" while he was in custody with the intention to share with fellow Americans his grievances and explain the absolute necessity for protests in Birmingham. Almost a century prior, in 1852, Frederick Douglass delivered his biting and passionate speech "The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro" on behalf of all the enslaved. Somewhat similar to Dr. King's letter, Douglass shares his own grievances regarding…show more content…
King and Douglass to a considerable degree. In "Letter from Birmingham Jail," King responds to the clergymen with logical reasoning whom write his community off as extremist (6). He emphasizes that his community has practiced and highlighted the power of nonviolent protest and communicates that the "excellent way of love and nonviolent protest" is one that they practice (6). This way, Dr. King seems to reclaim and rationalize the charged term 'extremist,' which is often carried with negative connotation. With a string of rhetorical questions, he inquires "Was not Jesus an extremist for love? Was not Amos an extremist for justice" (6). These rhetorical questions allude to strong, respected characters in history and labels them as 'extremist' for their beliefs, which are now accepted and glorified. He harbors a large amount of disappointment towards men of faith in this time because they have "remained silent behind anesthetizing security of stained glass windows" (7). He expands on that and shares he has "watched white churchmen stand on the sideline and mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities" (7). Dr. King uses logical reasoning and persuades the audience with reason by directly addresses the church and pointing out their undeniable inconsistencies. Frederick Douglass also touches on the injustices provided by the American church and justice systems; however, he goes more in depth. Douglass recites a…show more content…
and Frederick Douglass were two of the greatest abolitionists, writers, and statesmen to ever exist; devoting their life's work to tirelessly fight for the rights of African Americans. During the span of their lives, the "Letter from Birmingham Jail" and speech "The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro" took America by storm and have left a tangible impact on American history. In these acclaimed works, Dr. King and Douglass both use appeals to sadness to elaborate on the vile treatment of African Americans, evidence-based arguments to expose the corruption in the American church and justice system, careful, calculated, and persuasive language to establish their credibility. It is clear that speeches, essays, works of art, and music produced during a civil rights movement is nothing short of powerful, provocative, and most of the time, painful; but they are absolutely
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