Birmingham Bigots Busted Essay

834 words - 3 pages

Sending a letter to Martin Luther King Jr. was potentially the largest mistake the Eight White Clergymen could have made if they wanted to sustain segregation. They probably did not expect such an eloquent response from an African-American. The letter to King asks him to give up his demonstrations because it only hurts his cause by instigating further hatred and violence. The letter continues on and asks for “...our own Negro community to withdraw support from these demonstrations...” and to instead keep the fight for their rights to the court system and out of the streets. When King replies to this “Call for Unity” he strips the entire letter down and turns it against the authors, making his response over six times longer than the letter. The letter King wrote from Birmingham Jail was a vital turning point in the desegregation movement. If King wasn't arrested then perhaps the letter from the clergymen would have never been authored; however that would also prevent his reply written 24 days prior to the May 10th Birmingham agreement which ended segregation within the city.
The clergymen try to build a case that the outsiders coming into town are partly responsible for the demonstrations. King addresses this point almost immediately by establishing not only his credibility with his experience as the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference but also justification for coming to Birmingham. He goes further in depth for his justification by stating “Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States.” There was an effort to find the peaceful resolution the clergymen desired, promises were made “...to remove the humiliating racial signs...” and in turn any and all demonstrations were put on hold. “As the weeks and months unfolded we realized that we were the victims of a broken promise. The signs remained.” With the promise broken the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights began preparing for nonviolent demonstrations as a means for their goal.
Prior to King's statement, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” he writes that injustice is in Birmingham and that is the reason for his visit. By working backwards like that King puts himself in a position of advocacy for justice. To justify breaking laws to seek equality King quotes Saint Augustine, “an unjust law is no law at all.” As if to clear up the question of what an unjust law is, King follows up with the definitions Saint Thomas Aquinas defined. “Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law...

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