Birmingham was the wealthiest city in Alabama, and a bastion of segregation. The mayor was a segregationist and the police commissioner, Eugene "Bull" Conner was known for his hostile and sometimes violent treatment of blacks. The Governor of the state was George Wallace, who had won office with promises of "segregation forever.
Background[ edit ] The Birmingham campaign began on April 3,with coordinated marches and sit-ins against racism and racial segregation in Birmingham, Alabama. On April 10, Circuit Judge W. Jenkins issued a blanket injunction against "parading, demonstrating, boycotting, trespassing and picketing.
As a minister, King responded to these criticisms on religious grounds. As an activist challenging an entrenched social system, he argued on legal, political, and historical grounds.
As an orator, he used many persuasive techniques to reach the hearts and minds of his audience. King began the letter by responding to the criticism that he and his fellow activists were "outsiders" causing trouble in the streets of Birmingham.
To this, King referred to his responsibility as the leader of the SCLC, which had numerous affiliated organizations throughout the South.
We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly… Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.
To this, King confirmed that he and his fellow demonstrators were indeed using nonviolent direct action in order to create "constructive" tension. Citing previous failed negotiations, King wrote that the black community was left with "no alternative. In response, King said that recent decisions by the SCLC to delay its efforts for tactical reasons showed they were behaving responsibly.
For example, "A law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had no part in enacting or devising the law.
Alabama has used "all sorts of devious methods" to deny its black citizens their right to vote and thus preserve its unjust laws and broader system of white supremacy. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority.
King addressed the accusation that the Civil Rights Movement was "extreme", first disputing the label but then accepting it. Compared to other movements at the time, King finds himself as a moderate.
However, in his devotion to his cause, King refers to himself as an extremist. Jesus and other great reformers were extremists: Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.
Recent public displays of nonviolence by the police were in stark contrast to their typical treatment of black people, and, as public relations, helped "to preserve the evil system of segregation. One day the South will recognize its real heroes.
Retrieved October 12, The document available for viewing above is from an early draft of the Letter, while the audio is from King’s reading of the Letter later. Letter From Birmingham Jail 1 A U G U S T 1 9 6 3 Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr.
From the Birmingham jail, where he was imprisoned as a . In the spirit of King's iconic Letter fifty years ago, Letters to a Birmingham Jail calls us to contend with the slow, hard work of building a Christ-centered church—one that challenges us to do continual battle with the earthly divisions that diminish all who profess the name of Christ.
This book is essential reading/5(33). King was finally released from jail on April 20, four days after penning the letter.
Despite the harsh treatment he and his fellow protestors had received, King’s work in Birmingham continued. Martin Luther King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail" is the most important written document of the civil rights leslutinsduphoenix.com letter served as a tangible, reproducible account of the long road to freedom in a movement that was largely centered around actions and spoken words.
In “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” how does King explain the purpose and effectiveness of nonviolent direct action? As Project C began to unfold in Birmingham in the spring and summer of , how were these events reported to the nation and world?