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.
is the prime example when talking about civil disobedience, for in the 1960s he was the head of the civil rights movement. MLK’s method required one to think logically; with his reasoning segregation was not only unjust but illogic. He achieved his goals through peaceful marches and sit-ins and often used rhetorical questions to accomplish his shared goal of ending segregation. MLK also did what he did for the long run and so that future generations could live peacefully while Antigone did what she did to bring respect to the gods and the dead. MLK believed an unjust law is no law at all so breaking it in his mind is moral and right.
This may lead to arguments claiming that due to its danger, one should not protest against their own government. However, this is answered in Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience when he brings up the point that if no one does it, who will? The danger that protesting holds cannot withstand the anger that the oppressed feel when they are rebelling. As Martin Luther King Jr. mentions in his Birmingham letter, “freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed”. Henry David brings up the point that there are people who are opposed to certain issues in the world and sit with their hands in their pockets too afraid to do anything, and claiming out in the open that they have no idea what to do.
King follows the rest of the letter with more emotional cries, which included the split that had formed within the black community, on the argument of civil rights; Some had begun to settle for segregation, including some of the clergymen who had criticized King. Near the end, he opposes the clergymen's praise toward the Birmingham Police Department, by providing a vivid description of the attack on himself and his fellow protesters, leading up to his arrest. MLK closes his letter by stating his current situation, apologizing for the letter's length, and portraying a deep sense of pity, as he wishes for all to find faith for a better future. Martin Luther King's Letter from Birmingham City Jail makes heavy use of ethos and logos to clarify issues and concerns from his criticizers, but relies even more on the emotional connection that it portrays on the reader. With this clarification, King is able to defend his image, and re-ignite the drive, that his imprisonment and criticism had halted, towards the progression of the Civil Rights Movement.
The idea of violence is a key difference when comparing X and King. King is known for his preaching of non-violent means of protest. He states: "We who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive" (King 73). Here, Martin Luther King Jr. is inferring that violence is not necessary to convey a message or fight for what one believes, and that attaining justice isn 't limited to the act of violence.
Martin Luther King Jr. is seen as one of the most influential people in the civil rights movement, He brought forth change and was one of the leaders and forth runner of the movement to end segregation and give all equal rights. Whenever or wherever King went or spoke the reaction was always seen, heard, and powerful, he had established a following that was always ready to listen and was ready to cooperate in whatever needed to be done to help further the movement. When King was asked to help with marches in Birmingham his heart and compassion lead him to go to Birmingham ready to change and bring justice. When he was jailed after the march through Birmingham, the letter he sent from his cell in April of 1963 redefined the way people looked at the desegregation movement and how
King writes to the eight clergymen who were critical of his protests and to the indifferent people of the United States. In the essay, he claims that he has done nothing wrong by protesting peacefully. In paragraph 11, King says “freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” He is saying that freedom is something they have to fight for because the authorities will not give it to them. He is directing this statement at the clergymen while reaching the apathetic people of the United States. However, Thoreau writes to the common American people because they are directly affected by the government.
Inequality and racism have always been present in the history of America. Many people battle these injustices through different forms, such as writing, speaking, or protesting. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Frederick Douglass are both experienced in writing and speaking against certain injustices. In Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter From a Birmingham Jail,” as well as in Frederick Douglass’s “What to the Slave, is the Fourth of July?” they claim that injustice and inequality must be combatted in order for everyone to be free and equal. Martin Luther King, Jr., asserts that the injustices of the nation must be fought.
Although both Antigone, from “Antigone” by Sophocles, and Martin Luther King Jr. from “Letter From A Birmingham Jail” engage in acts of civil disobedience and fight for what they believe to be right, the way they go about these acts is quite different. Each of their reasons, actions, and consequences can be seen as opposites. Antigone refuses the help or involvement of others, which can be seen as a selfish act directly against the king while Martin Luther King Jr. involves the entire community to help the greater good. Antigone is a character who stands up for what she believes in to a point of direct civil disobedience toward the king, Creon. She puts the laws of the gods over the laws of her authority.
Both their speeches, “I Have a Dream” and “The Ballot or the Bullet” may have shared some common traits, but at the same time, differed greatly in various aspects. Martin Luther King’s speech, “I Have a Dream” is vastly recognized as one of the best speeches ever given. His passionate demand for racial justice and an integrated society became popular throughout the Black community. His words proved to give the nation a new vocabulary to express what was happening to them. Martin was famously a pacifist, so in his speech, he advocated peaceful protesting and passively fighting against racial segregation.