Sharon Rosales assignment
January 10, 2009
Letter from Birmingham Jail
Martin Luther King Jr., president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, drafted a letter on April 16, 1963. Seldom did he pause to respond to the criticism of his work and ideas, ideas that were called “unwise and untimely”. The letter justifies the necessity for the black community to participate on the “Nonviolent direct actions”. While confined in Birmingham Jail, Mr. King stated that he is at Birmingham because injustice is there. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their “thus saith the Lord”, so was he compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond his own home town.
Martin Luther King Jr. describes on this document “we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny”. “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly”. “Never again we can afford to live with the narrow provincial” “outside agitator” idea. He states that anyone who lives inside the Unites States can never be considered an outsider.
Mr. King explains in profound what a nonviolent campaign consisted on: collection of the facts to determine whether injustice exists, negotiation, self-purification, and direct action. All these steps were followed in Birmingham, one of the most segregated cities in the United States. He also explains how the black community has been victims of broken promises in the past. As consequence of these broken promises, the black community had no other alternative but to prepare for direct action.
He describes why direct action is a better path than negotiation. He believes that nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that the community, which has constantly refused to negotiate, is forced to confront the issue, making the issue one that can no longer be ignored. Mr. King believed “freedom was never...