In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” This letter explains Dr. King’s point of view to his fellow clergymen because they felt that he had made a colossal mistake in timing his nonviolent protests in Birmingham. The occurrence of injustice against African Americans remained unaddressed despite his arrangement to meet with community leaders for dialog. As expressed by Dr. King was important for everyone involved to have a stand. He was a leader of the Civil Rights movement who had worked very hard to improve the lives of the oppressed African American population. I support the opinion that to this day African American people suffer civil injustices. African American people have had to endure many historical injustices that they have not received reparations for (Jonathan, 25). On the matter of ill timing for their civil disobedience movement, I agree with Dr. King’s defense that justice should not have to wait. In his words, Justice delayed is justice denied. If they had delayed the civil action, they would have helped in the delaying of justice for all African American people. According to Dr. King, the government and other relevant stakeholders asked the African American leaders to wait for a favorable climate. They had waited for a long time and still been asked to wait. Dr. King’s civil disobedience movement had come at the right time. Some would even argue that he had been very late, African American people have had to endure segregation in the south for way too long.
Letter from Birmingham Jail Rhetorical Analysis
Dr. King wrote this letter during his incarceration for protesting in Birmingham. He was explaining his choice of timing because he felt that his fellow clergymen did not support his choice to orchestrate Civil disobedience protests soon after the election of new administrators in Birmingham. They felt that he had not given the new leaders enough time to settle into their new capacities and act. According to the clergymen, it would have prevented the escalation of tensions if the doctor had waited until the climate had become more favorable for the cause. I believe these issues should not be controlled by time. According to Dr. King, most moderate white people felt Dr. King’s actions were untimely. He addressed the issue of time by explaining that time in itself is neutral. There is neither good nor bad time during which to address injustice. He explained that people have the power to use time and that at the time bed people were using time to keep the status quo going with regard to African American rights. This would mean that as long as the wheels of time were in motion, the black people of America were lacked their right, they were being lynched, and children were unconsciously learning to hate white people. The solution to this problem was acting as soon as it was possible. This explains the doctor’s choice of time.
The second issue addressed by Dr. King was with people who felt that his movement had chosen to disobey some laws while choosing to follow others. This to them seemed like a mockery of the law because they felt that if people had the right to disobey whatever laws they felt were unfavorable, everybody would be free to do whatever they liked. This would lead to absolute anarchy in the United States. Dr. King addressed this by educating then a little about the different types of laws. He explained how there were just laws and unjust laws. The difference between these two types of laws is the objectives they aim to achieve. This can be explained better by viewing the morality of the laws. Unjust laws helped maintain some immoral order. Some of the laws prevented black men from voting since they could register as voters in some states. This makes them unjust laws that are worth breaking so that the can be addressed. Just laws maintain a moral order and do not oppress any group that is subject to following them. This morality equalizes all under the eye of those laws because no just law will empower an oppressor or aid in the oppressing of the oppressed. Everyone should follow the laws. Dr. King did not break any just laws (Luther and Vivian, 256).
Analysis of Letter from Birmingham Jail
The third issue Dr. King aimed to address is the defense of the actions of the police officers and women who were in charge of dealing with the protests. Most people had felt that the members of law enforcement had handled their protests nonviolently and required commendations for doing a fine job. He felt a vote of gratitude was in order but he feared that the members of society were glorifying their actions. Their job involved protecting the public. They did this job perfectly. The only part of their job Dr. King felt they were doing badly was the fact that they had allowed themselves to be instruments of maintaining the status quo. They helped protect the existing laws aimed at oppressing the colored people of America. Law enforcement went into action when black people had tried to stand up for their rights and although during this occasion their actions were commendable, they had normally been very hostile toward the general African American populace. This point can also be supported by understanding that there were laws in place that enabled a police officer to operate within the confines of the law while still being as biased as he possibly can toward African Americans.
This letter delivered his message very eloquently. He addressed his fellow clergymen and the black conservatives who shared their ideals, he addressed the moderate Christian white people who agreed with him that black people were still suffering in America, he also addressed the member of the police force who had not stepped back to look at the laws they had been tasked with protecting. Another group he sought to address was the group that saw this movement the way he saw it. This group was comprised of the black and white men and women who took part in the marches and the civil disobedience protests alongside Dr. King. He thanked them and encouraged them to keep fighting the good fight because their efforts were aimed at changing the world. These messages were very specific in explaining what the civil rights movement meant to Dr. King and his companions. In his words, ‘Justice delayed is justice denied. The timing of the protests is far removed from the problem itself. These injustices continue today especially with the police killing of African Americans. Justice should not be denied from the oppressed.
King, Martin Luther, and C. T. Vivian. “Letter from Birmingham jail.” Arguing About Law (2013): 254.
Rieder, Jonathan. Gospel of Freedom: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail and the Struggle That Changed a Nation. New York, NY: Bloomsbury Press, 2013. Internet resource.