Letter from Birmingham jail is a document which was written by Martin Luther King in response to a letter that was written by clergymen from the Southern town meant to persuade the blacks to end demonstrations.
It was very significant in the struggle of the blacks towards equality as it inspired them to continue fighting until they acquired racial equality. There were many themes that were covered in the letter which are inclusive of the necessity for a non violent action, difference between just and unjust law as well as Martin’s opinion regarding the failure of the God’s people to take their full responsibility. Therefore, the main aim of the letter was to push for the changing of the unjust laws as well as upholding the Supreme Court ruling of the year 1954. With that background in mind, the essay shall focus on Martin Luther definition of some issues like Revolution and compare the same with the description of other people like Henry David Thoreau. Revolution has been defined differently by different people. The letter illustrates clearly that the only way to achieve revolution is through an action characterized by strength, determination and persistence. Martin’s letter explains that a non violent action which is usually taken after observing the need for freedom can be termed as revolution. He continues to clarify that those people who have grasped the meaning of social revolution are people like Lillian Smith and McGill who have written about the struggle of the blacks.
Therefore, according to Martin Luther, revolution is all about realizing the need for a powerful action that can solve the problem of segregation. Similarly, Jefferson believes that revolution does not involve violent actions. He explains that there is a difference between war and revolution. War occurs when the government helps to identify the bad people while revolution takes place due to people’s initiatives (Jefferson and Woods). According to Marin Luther King, an extremist is any person who strongly persuades people to act and believe into what he believes is the right way (King). For instance, he says that the reason why he had been termed as an extremist is due to the approach he uses to tell people of how they can solve their discontent through a non violence direct action. He applies the term extremist to illustrate people who made a difference in the society by being extremists in a positive manner.
For instance, Jesus was an extremist for love and ended up even advising people to love even their enemies. He emphasizes that the problem is not being an extremist but the type of an extremist one is. Martin Luther uses relevant examples is his explanation of he term extremist which is very significant as it helps people to grasp and understand what he is talking about more easily (King). Martin Luther King was greatly influenced by Henry David Thoreau although they existed in different eras. Both wrote about the contemporary issues and are aimed at achieving justice and equality in the society.
David Thoreau may have laid the foundation for Martin Luther in many ways but the fact that Luther used to read Thoreau’s essay on civil disobedience must have been very influential. This is due to the fact that Luther came to adapt the same method of using nonviolent ways to stop evil in the society (Martin Luther King Jr. and Henry David Thoreau on Boundaries). It is not only the content that makes Martin’s letter interesting but also the style and rhythm. The paragraphs and sentences are well developed and his use of repletion helps reinforce his points. Since he was raised in a well up background, he was able to obtain some education which helped him greatly in developing and presenting his ideas.
Moreover, he wanted to make sure all the blacks would get a chance to enjoy the social amenities he was able to enjoy as a child. His father was also actively involved in the fight for the rights of the black people. Therefore, the character of Martin Luther which is illustrated in his major works is a result of not only hard work, but also his background.
Jefferson, Thomas & Brett F.
Woods. Thomas Jefferson: Thoughts on War and Revolution. New York : Algora Publishing, 2009.
Print. King, Martin Luther. “Letter from Birmingham Jail”. 1963. Web.
2 November 2010. Martin Luther King Jr. and Henry David Thoreau on Boundaries. 2009. Web. 2 November 2010.