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A Discussion of Martin Luther King Jr.'s Letter From Birmingham City Jail

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A Discussion of Martin Luther King Jr.'s Letter From Birmingham City Jail


Martin Luther King Jr. discusses the advantages and purposes for his theory of nonviolent direct action in his Letter From Birmingham City Jail. He shows four basic steps that must be taken to achieve nonviolent action. They include 1) collection of facts to determine whether injustices are alive; 2) negotiation; 3) self-purification; and 4) direct action. Each of these steps will be explained as part of King's argument later in this essay. The main purpose of a nonviolent campaign is to force any community to confront a problem rather than refuse to negotiate or face a specific issue. In the letter, King discusses his group's reasons for coming to Birmingham. He states that Birmingham is "probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States" and that much violence has taken place against Negroes there. He goes on to discuss how his attempts to negotiate with white merchants to remove racially offensive signs from store windows had failed. This caused King and many others to become discontent. There was also resentment towards white people because Negroes made up an overwhelmingly sizable part of the poor. Violence had evoked a fear in all Negroes, and resentment built up against the whites. King discusses how leaders have asked him to wait to take action, but he rejects this request by saying it is "difficult to wait". He simply refuses to sit back and watch his people being hurt and oppressed time after time. He claims that the white moderate is the group that is more devoted to discriminate blacks because they care more about order than justice. These moderates are complacent and would rather see no tension instead of the presence of jus...


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...nk that if King were alive today to witness the recent events at the World Trade Center, he would again preach nonviolence for the American people. He would be saddened to see our government retaliate with violence. I don't think the United States would be able to follow his four steps of nonviolence. We have achieved the first two steps of recognizing the direct injustice against us, and we have attempted to negotiate with the leaders of the Taliban. I think our country would not be able to reach the step of self-purification. As the ultimate power in the world, the U.S. would not be able to simply accept blows against our government, freedom and liberty. I think it would be hard to solve this terrorism today with nonviolence tactics only. I think this because it is an international, political, and economical issue rather than a social injustice against a minority.


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