Imagine being treated poorly because of how you look as an individual, what your race is, or even the color of your skin. Sometimes people just don’t stop to think, as to how what they are about to express an opinion on can affect someone else. This is what segregated everyone in the country, and it caused for us to have unequal citizen. People like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was very strong-minded, passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which had prohibited segregation. Segregation has been around for over three hundred and forty years, and is still affecting us as a union today.
The Letter from Birmingham Jail, was a letter written by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from a very confined space in a cell in Birmingham, Alabama. Think about if you were locked up in a cell, and not understanding the complete reasoning for it, wouldn’t you write a whole letter to get your point across? There had been lots of violence of terror, of course against African Americans, and it became so unpleasant that locals had given Birmingham a new name. Dr. King was arrested by the police, for participating in an anti-segregation march, for grounds that he had no permit for (Jr.).
During this time, segregation played a huge deal within the Jim Crow Laws dealing with the separation of restrooms, restaurants, schools, health care centers, etc. for blacks and whites that took place way after slavery, mostly in the South. Dr. King wrote this letter in response to all of the inappropriate criticisms, which he was receiving from different men and their poor leadership, and the injustice that was taking place (Jr.). He had a collection of information to see if it was true, negotiation with the oppressor, self-purification, and direct action ready to happen. Dr. King had received questions and was ridiculed for the activities that took place in Birmingham, Alabama. He sat in jail for the most simplest of conditions: social and legal equality that were amongst our blacks and whites. The clergy men had an issue with how Dr. King intervene with the issues at hand, and they repeatedly shot him down, but he wouldn’t go down without a fight. For every criticism he received, he had outstanding reasoning, he was forceful, and articulate about defending himself in that regard (Jr.). For example, it’s as if a principle visited another school, although they aren’t the principle of that school, they still give valid points and reasoning as to how a school should be operated.
There’s people who will go against a lot of stuff you say, but you have to be strong minded just how Dr. King was, and don’t let what others say defeat you, and stop you from making a well-founded point. His main goal was to insure that whoever argued with him, understood that they should’ve know better, when they directed accusations against him because he wanted an end to desegregation (Jr.).
Dr. King didn’t just deal with those issues, but also the discussions about civil disobedience. Civil disobedience is another form of resisting the law, and simply violating and going against something you’re not supposed to (Bertolino). Typically, they are violating what they are protesting about, like for example, segregation. The purpose of civil disobedience may sometimes be to make an unjust law public. This will force negotiations with certain officials, to get to court where someone can debate the law, or to put a stop to the injustice to an unjust law. For example, Henry David Thoreau was put in jail because he didn’t pay a poll tax; he felt as though it wasn’t worth and why should he have to do that. Another example would be, not according to the law, but when someone doesn’t show up for work because they feel like their working for free, so they get fired. Same rules will apply, although you may have an opinion about something, that isn’t what it says on paper, so now you must suffer the consequences (Bertolino).
As mentioned in the letter, Dr. King wanted had another focus, self-purification. Just like Gandhi believed, King also believed you should love everyone, even your own enemies. He also, had to give rid of the thought of him hating others. Dr. King relied on his Christian faith, and he believed that this is right in order for him to complete his mission of being self-purified. He didn’t fail to make it known that, Gandhi was his model for making decisions, and for the fundamental for demanding that equal rights be put in place for Black in the United States of America (Bertolino).
Throughout the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, Jim Crow Laws were used to segregate people by the color of their skin in the country. These laws affected people in their everyday life by controlling what restrooms they were allowed to use, the effects of their health care, and even educational purposes. Separating whites from blacks, with the assumption that everyone is being treated equally. It may have seemed as though, that the laws made a claim that everything was equal, but blacks always got the short end of the stick. Dr. King states in his letter, that there are two types of different laws. There is just and unjust, one having moral responsibility to disobey the unjust laws. King felt as though, an unjust law isn’t eternal and natural law. There were many different laws in Alabama that surfaced throughout, in order for segregation to continue.
In Alabama, it was against the law for a Negro and a white person to play together, have separate toilet facilities, no white female was allowed to nurse when a black male was placed, all bus stations should have separate waiting rooms and separate ticket windows for the colored and white, and all four laws were standard. Standard meaning, which is what stands and it will not change. These laws that were stated are very similar to the Jim Crow Laws that were being used before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. died, which after his death they then were taken away.
If anyone truly wants to understand how Dr. King feels, the Letter from Birmingham Jail is crucial enough for you to get a clear understanding, as to why he said what he said, and why he did what he’s done. Dr. King’s death broke many hearts, along with activists. He was a leader, he was someone everyone could look up to. A leader with heart, passion, dedication, and commitment to one’s race.
Why Do People Segregate by Race and Skin Color. (2019, Aug 12).
Retrieved December 5, 2021 , from
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