Martin Luther King Jr. began composing his "Letter From Birmingham Jail," which was aimed at eight moderate religious leaders in Alabama. On April 12, 1963, those eight clergy requested King to postpone Birmingham civil rights marches. In response, King wrote them a letter explaining why such protests were necessary.
King wrote this letter from a jail in Birmingham, Alabama. He had been arrested for leading a march without a permit and was being held without charge. The clergy who received King's letter agreed that nonviolent protest was the way to achieve civil rights in Alabama and asked him to lead one more march on May 2. This time they would provide security for him so that he wouldn't be injured or killed like other black activists in the state.
In the letter, which has become known as "Dr. King's Reply To Birmingham's Religious Leaders," he argues that nonviolence is the most effective weapon against racial segregation because it creates a sense of responsibility in those who use violence. Nonviolence also allows for change to happen gradually instead of all at once, which prevents people from losing hope of achieving their goals.
Additionally, King says that if protesters do get hurt or killed, it will only make matters worse for blacks in the South. Violence will not help them obtain their rights; instead it will only cause more fear among white people and drive away potential allies.
It has been five decades since Martin Luther King Jr. began writing his famous "Letter From Birmingham Jail," a response to eight white Alabama pastors who condemned King and were concerned that the civil rights movement might spark violence. They labeled King a "extremist" and advised blacks to be patient. In response, King argued that injustice could not be tolerated indefinitely and called for peaceful protest.
Here are the eight paragraphs of King's letter:
1 The very existence of such a document proves that I am not alone in my conviction that nonviolent action is one of the most powerful weapons available to oppressed people in their struggle for justice...
2 I believe this statement will be seen as I intended, by some as a call to violence. Such was not my intention. Rather, I wanted to explain why I believed nonviolent action was important...
3 Surely we must reject violence; but how can we reject something that is only done by people? Nonviolence is a state of mind. It is based on faith in humanity. It is because I believe that your human nature can be changed by education and example that I believe you should live up to it...
4 We cannot walk together across this land until we agree on what direction we are walking.
The correct answer is D. Martin Luther King's goal in writing "Letter from Birmingham Jail" was to "defend his techniques against ecclesiastical criticism." Martin Luther King Jr. addressed the letter to a group of white clergy who were criticizing MLK Jr.'s activities in Birmingham, Alabama. In it, he defends his decision to engage in civil disobedience and offers suggestions about how they can best be effective.
Here are the questions that follow the letter:
He calls it "the new militantism" which is a reference to the black freedom movements then happening across America. He believes this movement is necessary because "physical violence is not the only or even the most effective form of social change."
King explains that nonviolence has never been completely successful because no matter how much progress is made by protesters, there will always be more work to do. Therefore, violence as a last resort must be understood as a necessary component of any successful campaign for justice.
King writes "Letter from Birmingham Jail" to defend his decision to engage in civil disobedience.
King's Birmingham "Letter" Resonates 50 Years Later It's been 50 years since Martin Luther King Jr. began writing his famous "Letter From Birmingham Jail," in response to white Alabama pastors who labeled him a "extremist" and advised blacks to be patient. As part of its commemorative year, the civil rights movement has received new attention from historians and activists alike.
Black Americans have made significant progress toward equality during King's lifetime and after his death in 1968 at age 39, but many barriers remain. This article explores one aspect of modern-day racial inequality: the fact that black men are disproportionately affected by crimes such as murder and assault. The article also examines how King's "Letter" addresses this issue and why it remains relevant today.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, black males account for about 70 percent of those serving life sentences in state prisons. The same source reports that black boys represent about 7 out of 10 children in foster care. These figures highlight the difficulties that black boys face in our society, which includes a disproportionate number of police officers.
It also explains why many people view King's "Letter" as more than just an expression of moral outrage over these issues; they see it as a call to action.
Keep This Word! (1963). A letter sent by Martin Luther King, Jr. to his fellow clergymen while incarcerated in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963, following a nonviolent demonstration against racial discrimination (see also sit-ins). In it, he urges them to continue their protests and not be deterred by arrest or imprisonment.
King wrote three letters from jail. The one addressed here is written on March 16, 1963, just over a week after the first protest took place on December 4, 1962. It was published in both the Christian Century and The Montgomery Advertiser on March 23. The other two letters are written on April 5 and May 25, respectively. They were both published together in The Birmingham News on April 6, 1963.
The original text has been edited for readability. Some words have been changed for consistency (e.g., "their" has been changed to "there's" on multiple occasions), but all references to events or people have been retained. Also, some words that may not be familiar to readers of young age have been simplified via the use of contractions ("shouldn't" instead of "should not," "couldn't" instead of "could not").
This letter is excerpted from its entirety below.
As the Birmingham Campaign's events unfolded on the city's streets, Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote a letter from his Birmingham prison cell in response to local religious leaders' condemnation of the campaign: "Never before have I written such a long letter." In it, he argued that the injustices faced by blacks in Alabama were not merely social problems but rather constituted "an attack upon the very core of America's democracy."
King went on to say that if Americans accepted racial segregation as normal, then blacks would be forced to accept it too: "If we wish to continue to live at peace with our black neighbors, we must abolish discrimination against them." He concluded by asking readers to pray for him and his colleagues.
The next day, King was arrested for violating Birmingham's anti-boycott law and sentenced to six months in jail. A fellow inmate later said that while in prison, "he prayed more fervently than ever before or since".
Upon his release, King returned to Birmingham to lead more protests. The city's government didn't alter its position on segregation, but the intensity of King's criticism increased. On May 12, King gave his "I Have a Dream" speech before an audience gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.