Summary Of Letter From Birmingham Jail

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Extended Summary In April of 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. was sent to jail after participating in a peaceful protest against segregation in Birmingham, Alabama. Eight clergymen had criticized King in a letter titled "A Call for Unity" and King replied with the "Letter from Birmingham Jail" with the intention to eradicate all social injustices by peacefully protesting the unjust laws placed in Birmingham, Alabama, and all throughout the South. King starts with addressing the clergymen's claim of him being an "outsider". He refutes that he was invited to Birmingham as the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which operate in every southern state, "to engage in a nonviolent direct-action program" (King 699). King reveals …show more content…

The clergymen stated that King's direct actions were untimely and suggested negotiations, but King further explains that negotiations fail, but direct action raises tension, which "is necessary for growth" (King 701). King states that he, and the black community are tired of waiting for change, "Justice too long delayed is justice denied" (King 701). That is why King pushes direct action. King then acknowledges the difference between just and unjust laws. In the words of St. Thomas Aquinas, King comments, "Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust" (King 702). King declares that segregation is unjust, "It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority" (King 702). For example, King uses Hitler and the Nazi Germany. It was legal for Hitler to persecute the innocent Jewish people. Disappointed with white moderates, King reveals that they are more "devoted to 'order' than to justice" (King 704). He hoped that the white moderates would understand that they need law and order to exist to establish justice. Their unwillingness to take action does not help King's movement to end segregation, which is why King emphasizes protest to eradicate the unjust

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