On April 16 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote a letter from jail. The world knows this letter as the Letter from Birmingham, or The Negro is Your Brother. Martin Luther King dedicated all his life to fighting injustices in the community. As we often know, during the 1960’s, racism was high in America. The white had a terrible view of their black counterparts, labeling them as the lowly in the society. According to these whites, the whites had no freedom whatsoever, not of movement, speech, expression nor speech. This racism had a enormous linkage to the slavery that was prevalent throughout the Americas in the early 19th century. Many leaders rose to condemn racism, and one of these leaders was this man, Martin Luther King Jr. (Snow, 321).
Martin was a charismatic person who had the feelings of the black community at hand. Martin could do just anything to ensure that there was equality within the two races. Martin was of the opinion that dialogue, and non-violence did not bring any fruits for such a course. Martin’s belief was that, the blacks had to take their oppressions, and fight on the streets. However, martin had his supporters and a fair share of opponents (Snow, 325). Among his detractors were eight clergymen who vehemently opposed Martin’s actions. Although they did accept that blacks were under heavy oppression, they were of the opinion that the courts should have the chance to deal with such matters.
This paper analyses Martins battle with this clergymen. The paper gives a detailed description Martins letter when he was in a Birmingham jail. The paper gives a summary of Martin’s view in this letter. However, his views and opinions are subject to much argument, whether they were justified or not. The paper gives an opinion on whether the claims were justified or not. The writer of this paper also recognizes that not all share the same opinion as him. Many people have differing opinions and views on the actions of Martin Luther King (Snow, 330). Therefore, as a strategy, the writer tries to counter these differing opinions by attempting to give a justification to the would be antagonists.
Alabama’s Christian movement fighting for human rights a southern leadership conference organized a nonviolent riot. The aim of this riot was to oppose the oppression the black community was facing from the government governing the city, and other rich retailers (Snow, 334). As expected, martin was at the thick of this noble action. However, in the process of this noble goal, that there was arresting of Martin and subsequent jailing. It is while at this jail that Martin, through his lawyers and priests wrote these letters to his detractors.
After his trial, eight clergymen released a statement condemning the actions of Martin, especially his participation in the protest. Martin’s reply hit three birds at the same time. This was a way of defending himself from the accusations and showed the need for the demonstration. The other aim was to attack the clergymen and the white on their opinions, which were against the black community (Boulton et al, 12).
In the first line, martins answers the critics that he is not an outsider in Birmingham and that he has every rights to enjoin the people of Alabama in their quest. According to him, he had organizational ties with Christian Fellowship in Birmingham. Moreover, Americans had the right to air their views anywhere within her bounds. The fact that Martin was an American was enough justification to participate in the quest. This was in line with the provisions of the American constitution binding all Americans together (Boulton et al, 23).
The clergymen also accused Martin of not considering the timing of the riot. The clergymen claimed such was not the right time for such an action. However, Martin had a true conviction that this was the best time for the black community to air its grievances. Firstly, the blacks had engaged the retailers in direct dialogue that bore no fruit (Boulton et al, 45). They wanted the economic community and other merchant community to remove racial signs from their businesses, something they did not do. The clergymen claimed that this was Easter time, a period when the masses are celebrating the death and rise of Jesus. It was not right to draw the masses from prayer to violence. Easter is one of the periods when Americans shop most. Logically, the best time to plié pressure on businesspersons, and force them to alter their behavior, is when their market is high. Martin recognized this fact and used this time for the demonstrations (Boulton et al, 111).
Martin also affirms that there was constant postponement of the riots for a very long period, and the blacks had had enough. The community had also waited for more than three hundred years to achieve this dream. Enough was enough. The clergy also alleged that the timing did not give the new mayor time to respond to their issues. According to Luther, however, the new mayor was also a racist and, if given time, could not have changed anything (Boulton et al, 222).
The clergy also accuses Martin of being a lawbreaker, a man who takes the law on his own hands, and has no respect for the law courts. Martin’s view is that, each American is a rational Human being capable of deciding right and wrong. Therefore, they have an obligation to obey just laws, and disobey the oppressing or unjust laws. Martins say that just laws come from God while the unjust laws are the making of the humans. Unjust law is not in synchrony with natural law, and hence, Americans have the obligation to disobey such laws (Boulton et al, 245).
The clergy labels Martin as an extremist standing in between two groups in the black community. There is that group of blacks who after a long period of segregation have become accustomed to that state of affairs. The other group comprises of blacks who have taken to violence to deal with their issues, after losing faith with America (Boulton et al, 176). However, Martins view is that he should not take sides in the black community. If he is to unite the two factions, he needs to be impartial. This argument concludes the first part of his letter.
The second part is an attack on the whites and the church. Martin is of the view that the church has substantially failed. Here, he is talking about the white church. The white church chose to keep cool, and did not join in the nonviolence demonstrations. The church should be at the front in fighting for the rights of the common community. Martins view is that the white church should have been part of march, and its failure to participate was a enormous blow to democracy (Boulton et al, 59). According to Martin, the church should go back to the role of defending the community, just as the early church did. If the church continues its impartiality, it would lose its meaning and relevance in the community. Martin still has faith in the church, but he condemns it for supporting the police.