Letter From A Birmingham Jail Essays

Letter From A Birmingham Jail Essays

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In the letter, “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King, Jr, and the speech, “The Ballot or the Bullet” by Malcolm X, the authors discuss their very different viewpoints on what form of freedom would it take to accomplished their goal. While King believes that peaceful approaches would allow the black community to achieve equality with the white Americans, Malcolm X thinks achieving equality with white Americans is nearly impossible; therefore, he preaches a separatist doctrine. Although King and X are both fighting for the black community’s rights and their integration into the nation’s system, their approaches differ significantly. King and X differ in three main areas: their ultimate goals, the strategies to accomplish those goals, and their use of rhetoric.
Firstly, King and X disagree on goal. Whereas X wants to separate a nation between blacks and whites, King wants to unite a nation. King’s goal of unity needs to be sought by a political and social integration with the white community. He believes that everyone should be treated the same with equal rights, such as eating in the same restaurant. His goal is to integrate his fellow citizens into the promises of the government. As King writes: “Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood.” He wants a brotherhood with the ability to be color-blind in regards to races and skin color, a place where “whatever affects one directly, affects all directly.” H feels that everyone is connected to each other; therefore, the actions of an individual affect the whole community.
X, on the other hand, would like a separate black society without whites’ interference. He wants his black comm...


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...zed the reality in which they are living; to realize what the ballot is for. He wants to plant the seed of motivation into them for them to action for the upcoming election. Time is running out, and he would not hesitate to get people to vote and to open their eyes to see their reality, a reality in which “everything that came out of Europe, every blue-eyed thing, is already an American. And as long as you and I have been here we aren’t Americans yet.” He wants them to act quickly, since time is now their worst enemy. The right aim of their ballot is now essential to end their suffering, since in previous elections their vote was wasted. As X writes: “Your vote, your dumb vote, your ignorant vote, your wasted vote put in an administration in Washington D.C.” Above all, X’s rhetoric seeks the awakening of the black community in order for them to see reality as it is.

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