On Good Friday in 1963, 53 African-American, led by Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., marched into downtown Birmingham, Alabama to protest the existing segregation laws. All of the demonstrators were arrested. The arrests sparked eight clergymen in Birmingham to compose a letter appealing to the black population to put an end to their demonstrations.In response, Martin Luther King drafted a document that would mark the turning point of the Civil Rights movement and provide enduring inspiration to the struggle for racial equality.
Martin Luther King;s ;Letter from Birmingham Jail;, in a diplomatic, heartfelt and completely inoffensive voice, strives to justify the desperate need for nonviolent direct action, the absolute immorality of unjust laws together with what a just law is (in reference to St. Augustine;s theory of morality and natural law). King predicts the increasing probability of the ;Negro; resorting to extreme disorder and bloodshed. In addition, King voices his utter disappointment with the Church who, in his opinion, has not lived up to its responsibilities as a servant of God.
King;s justification to the eight Birmingham clergymen for protesting segregation begins with a profound explanation of their actions, ;Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue;. The actions of the African American people are overdue and very well planned, as King states in the letter. As King describes, ;past promises have been broken by the politicians and merchants of Birmingham and now is the time to fulfill the natural right of all people to be treated equal;. Violence is not what King wishes for; he simply wants unjust laws changed and the Supreme Court;s 1954 ruling (Brown v.
Board of Ed.) upheld. King also responds to the clergy;s all…