Letter from Birmingham Jail
1) Who is King’s audience? His audience war the group of clergymen that told him not to come to Birmingham and cause trouble with the locals they were from a bunch of different churches.
2) Does King consider himself an “outsider” by staging a civil rights protest in Birmingham? List three reasons he gives in response to this criticism.
-He is the president of the Southern Christian leadership conference the organization operates in every southern state including the Alabama Christian movement for human rights and he shares staff educational and financial resources with those affiliates
-the local affiliate in Birmingham invited him there for nonviolent direct action program so he has basic organizational ties there
-he is in Birmingham because injustice is in Birmingham religious people left their villages to go spread the word of God and so he too will carry the gospel of freedom Jan his hometown
-injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere he can’t sit in Atlanta and see what’s happening in Birmingham whatever affects one affects all
3) List and explain the four-step process King outlines for their nonviolent campaign.
Step one collection of the facts to determine whether injustices are alive Birmingham is the most thoroughly segregated city in the US, there is a record of police brutality, it unjustly treats Negroes in the courts, there are unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches
step two negotiation the political leaders consistently refused to engage in good-faith negotiations when Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers, promises were made by merchants to remove racial science so local reverend called a stop to demonstrations but weeks and months went by and it was a broken promise and the signs remained
step three self purification- they started having workshops on nonviolence and has themselves are you able to accept blows without retaliating and can you endure the ordeal of jail?
step four direct action- they decided around Easter because it was the largest shopping period of the year besides Christmas, a strong economic withdrawal program would be the byproduct of direct action it would be the best time to bring pressure on the merchants, and the March election was ahead so they decided to postpone action until after election day
4) How does King define “just” laws and “unjust” laws? Why do you agree or disagree with his reasoning? Are there laws today that you think are unjust? If so, why are they unjust and why do people continue to obey them?
He believes that an unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with moral law and a just law is a man-made code that squares with moral law or the law of God. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. I agree with his reasoning. There are many laws that are unjust. The three strike law is ludicrous. It’s bizarre to me that you can do something tiny like steel diapers and have that be your third strike and go to jail forever. People continue to obey them because people that commit a lot of felonies really don’t have a lot of rights there probably at this point drug addicts gang members and don’t have a lot of resources or money or people to help them.
5) In this letter, King writes, “I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not…the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderate….” Why does King consider white moderates to be such an obstacle to the quest for equality?
He believes that white moderates are more devoted to order than they are to justice. They prefer a negative piece and even though they agree with the goal but they can’t agree with the methods. He believes that they’re all about waiting for a better time and they have a shallow understanding.
6) Why is King hopeful about the prospects for equal rights for black Americans? Give specific examples and reasons he mentions to support your answer.
He believes that Birmingham will eventually be free just like the rest of the United States because African-Americans have been abused and scorned that have come up and thrive over and over again. Even when they build homes for their masters they had bottomless the pallet he. Is slavery couldn’t stop them the opposition they face then will surely fail. The grain to win their freedom because of the sacred heritage of the nation and the eternal will of God.
7) What is King’s response to the clergymen’s approval of how the police kept order during the demonstrations?
The police kept order and preventing violence but he does not commend the police if you saw their angry violent dogs biting six unarmed nonviolent blacks. And if you saw their ugly inhumane treatment of blacks in the city jail or watch them push and curse old black women and young black girls slapped and kicked old black men and young boys. If you saw them not to give them food because they wanted to sing grace together so he can’t praise the police department. The police are preserving the evil system of segregation.
8) Select one phrase or sentence from each of the first five pages of this letter.
“Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider” what happens to one of us happens to all of us United States is like an overgrown family if something horrible is happening in New York City we all feel it here in Seattle even though we are 3000 miles away.
“So the purpose of direct action is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation” he is saying that they have tried to be nice they have tried to be reasonable but nothing has been done to stop segregation so their hand was forced and they were forced to demonstrate in the streets and cause their fight to go to the front page of the papers once I got arrested.
“Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court’s decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools” they really are only asking for the law to be upheld in Birmingham. The law has Artie been fought in the court system and the segregation’s side lost so they just need to segregate the schools and segregate coffee houses and the whole town of Birmingham and follow the law like everybody else.
“If his repressed emotions do not come out and these nonviolent ways, they will come out in ominous expressions of violence” if Martin Luther King was not in charge then eventually it would get ugly and people would turn to violence to get the rights that they deserve 40% of the population is black in Birmingham so if 40% of a population rises up against their oppressors there’s going to be bloodshed and it will be ugly.
“I have been disappointed with the white church and its leadership” I think this is one of the saddest parts of his letter. I'd like to think that any church I belong to would be on the side of good or at least on the side of following the law. It’s hard to imagine that a bunch of suppose it’s rich people go out of their way to be horrible to entire group of people.
9) Extra credit (because it’s that time of year!): Research something in this letter you don’t fully understand—for instance, a biblical reference
“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you” Matthew 5: 44 King James Version
It is easy to love your friends but Jesus replaced this idea with an even higher standard: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven”
Jesus explained to His followers that they should adhere to the real meaning of God’s law by loving their enemies as well as their neighbors. Jesus taught that His followers must demonstrate love to all kinds of people—no matter what faith, nationality, or personality—enemies included. If you love your enemies and “pray for those who persecute you,” you then truly reveal that Jesus is Lord of your life.
I think MLK was saying no matter what faith, nationality or personality enemies included in need to show love to all kinds of people.