Dr. Martin Luther King 's Letter From Birmingham Jail Essay

Dr. Martin Luther King 's Letter From Birmingham Jail Essay

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Dr. Martin Luther King addressed many topics in, “Letter from Birmingham Jail”. He answered all the issues that were aimed towards him in a very skillful and well thought out manner. These issues came from, “A Call For Unity”, which was a letter published by eight local clergymen expressing their feelings about what Dr. King was doing. One concern in particular that King did an outstanding job of confronting was that of the clergymen’s anxiety about him breaking the law. King addresses the question of, “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” by clarifying that there are just and unjust laws. He also goes on to explain the difference between the two, the effect of unjust laws on the people that they are aimed towards, as well as examples of such laws. Furthermore, he explains why they should be broken and gives examples of when they’ve been broken in the past with the usage of civil disobedience.
First, Dr. King clears up any idea that he’s just someone who has broken the law for no reason. He does this by saying; “I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.” (Para 15) This statement tells us that Dr. King is simply adhering to his moral responsibility by doing as he’s supposed to. He knows that following a one-sided makes no sense, and it would be submitting to evil. He even goes on to quote St. Augustine, declaring that, “an unjust law is no law at all.” (Para 15) Therefore, the segregation laws that were implemented in Birmingham at the time were by St. Augustine’s logic, no law at all.
Next, Martin Luther King gives a detailed explanation of the difference be...


... middle of paper ...


... prideful about.
In conclusion, the clergymen were very wary about Dr. King’s lawful infractions. However, King attempts to alleviate their anxiety in several clever ways. He enlightens them that there are just and unjust laws, and that the laws in Birmingham fall into the unjust category. He explains what actually makes a law unjust. He gives examples of the unjust laws and explains why they should be broken. Finally, he gives examples of times when unjust laws were broken in the past. Also, the usage of quotes from St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas to help support his claim was really clever because these are men that the clergymen are most likely very familiar with. Who would they be to dispute the ideologies of these two great men? After reading this section in King’s letter, the clergymen most likely felt better or could at least see why he broke the law.

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