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Martin Luther King's Letter From Birmingham Jail

1753 words - 7 pages

It was change created by a human for the human, a change which made the life of others livable. During the civil rights movement in America in 1960’s various techniques were used to gain the civil rights for the black people in a series of which came the “Letter form Birmingham jail” written by Martin Luther King himself. King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail" was a profound and persuasive written argument which captured the emotions of many people encompassing rigid life experiences, educated observances, and deeply rooted spiritual beliefs. In this letter King freely expressed his position concerning the injustice that black people faced in America. This injustice was segregation for the system of laws and customs separating blacks and whites that whites used to control blacks after slavery that was abolished in 1860’s in the American Civil Rights. While imprisoned in April of 1963 King directly responded to "Letter from Eight White Clergymen" using a variety of argumentative techniques.
First of all, King's devotion to "justice for all" was the consistent energy expressed in his letter. To illustrate, in an attempt to appeal to reason, King stated that, “How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God and an unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law"(52). King illustrates this appeal through definition by proving the basis for a just law. He further explains that a just law can be unjust when it is designed for only one group in society. Moreover, he said,” An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This difference is made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself and this is sameness made legal"(53). Through inductive logic King draws a conclusion about unjust laws by his personal observation:
Sometimes a law is just on its face and unjust in its application. For instance, I have been arrested on a charge of parading without a permit. Now there is nothing wrong in having an ordinance, which requires a permit for parade. But such an ordinance becomes unjust when it is used to maintain segregation and to deny citizens the First-Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and protest (53).
By this statement King proved that in its application an unjust law can oppose a just law. Nevertheless, in this circumstance the just law is the First-Amendment right to peaceful assembly and protest and the unjust law prohibits one group of people from obtaining this right as a citizen of the United States of America. From this point King's appeal to reason carefully merges into an appeal to character. ...

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