Martin Luther King Jr. and John Brown's Civil Disobedience

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Civil disobedience is a form of non-violent direct action and respectful disagreement. Martin Luther King Jr. is most famous for his role in leading the African American Civil Rights Movement and using non-violent civil disobedience to promote his beliefs. He strongly believed that civil disobedience was the way to eliminate racial segregation against African Americans. While leading a protest march on the streets, King was arrested and sent to jail. In jail, he read an article written by a group of clergymen arguing against King’s acts of civil disobedience, saying that racial segregation should be negotiated in the courts, rather than in the streets, and accused King of causing unnecessary tension. In response to this, King wrote Letter from Birmingham Jail, explaining that racial segregation is an injustice that affects everyone. In his letter, King lists his own criteria for acts of civil disobedience. In 1859, a white man named John Brown attempted to launch a series of slave revolts by raiding an army arsenal in Virginia. His motivation was to inspire a revolution to end slavery. Brown planned to gather groups of slaves throughout his raid to further carry out series of revolts. John Brown’s raid on Harper Ferry in 1859 meets many of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s standards for direct action and should be regarded as justified acts of civil disobedience. Martin Luther King Jr. took action to bring change to a nation in which discrimination against the African American community was the norm. King used civil disobedience, because he believed in changing the laws using non-violent protest and avoiding unnecessary conflict. According to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the definition of criteria for direct action is “one who breaks a... ... middle of paper ... ...and should be considered as one, despite the fact that not all of King’s criteria were met, because John Brown was a man who was able to follow his heart and what he believed was right, rather than adjusting himself to the norm of society. Works Cited Booker, Bobbi. "John Brown's Legacy to be Celebrated here." Philadelphia Tribune: 1. Nov 29 2009. ProQuest. Web. 15 Oct. 2013. Horwitz, Tony. “Why John Brown Still Scares Us.” American History Dec. 2011. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 14 Oct. 2013. Johnson, Greg. "John Brown Leads Raid on Harper's Ferry." Philadelphia Tribune: 4. Oct 16 2007. ProQuest. Web. 15 Oct. 2013 King, Jr., Martin Luther. “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” Writing Arguments: A Rhetoric with Readings. Ed. John D. Ramage, John C. Bean, and June Johnson. Boston: Pearson, 2012. 584-95. Print. "The Raid on Harpers Ferry." PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2013.

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