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Addressing the Concerns of the Clergymen

What is the main purpose of “Letter from Birmingham Jail” ? Explain.

The main purpose of the “Letter from Birmingham Jail” is to address the concerns of those clergymen who were critical of the actions of Dr. King and Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) with regard to Birmingham protests. He opposes charge of being an “Outsider” who came with the purpose of stirring trouble in Birmingham by telling the fact that since SCLC though based in Atlanta has spread over all South and hence came over on the invitation of one of the affiliates. Further Dr. King reflects that he has come to fight injustice (racial discrimination) which needs to be fought irrespective of the underlying geography and the clergymen have failed to understand the root cause of the protests.

Further Dr. King elaborates on the underlying process of revolt. It was confirmed by SCLC that institutional racism was being practiced in Birmingham and hence futile attempts were made to negotiate with white business leaders to rectify the situation which led to the decision of organizing a non violent protest. Because of the impending mayor elections, SCLC decided to postpone the protests but when the selected successor was also a pronounced racist, SCLC had no choice but to proceed with the protests. This protest was necessary to create the necessary tensions in the society which would lead the various parties (in this case clergyman) to the negotiation table with the intent to resolving the underlying issue.

Now he responds to the second criticism levelled by the clergymen regarding the untimely nature of the protests. He claims for the privileged community desirous of maintaining the status quo, all protests would be ill timed because of the moral change they intend to bring. He reflects at the fact that the Black community has waited long enough (i.e. more than 340 years) and simultaneously reflects on the atrocities faced by the black community including her daughter only because of their underlying skin colour. Hence it is imperative that the whites should understand the seemingly impatience of the black men.

Further he responds to the claim regarding the willingness of the black men to break law. In this context, he hints that first the white community need to adhere to the laws which ensure equality. Besides he advocates that any law which fails to honour and safeguard human dignity is an unjust law and thus must be protested against. The adherence of such unjust laws creates a false divide between the oppressors and oppressed. Besides he points towards some laws being inherently unjust due to their malign intent while some becoming unjust due to their misuse to perpetuate atrocity on the unprivileged. He understands that if everyone starts breaking the law then a situation of anarchy would prevail and hence if willing to face consequence of breaking any unjust law.

Dr.King is highly critical of the white moderate who in pursuit of order have sacrificed justice and thus responsible for the existing racial discrimination. Infact he is amazed that they cannot differentiate between non violent protest and violent perpetuated by the oppressors and also the fact that they blame blacks for the violence caused. Also he is critical of the moderate’s approach of buying time since he believes that only action can bring the desired change.

Underlying Process of Revolt

Then he turns his attention to the allegation regarding SCLC being violent where he acknowledges that there are two extreme factions and that he represents a middle path of peaceful protest which more people should be allowed to follow or else it would result in heightened extremism. Further he quotes men such as Jesus and Abraham Lincoln who also were labelled as extremists and hence takes pride in calling himself one because of the underlying moral cause of emancipation of the blacks.

He also expresses disappointment at the stance taken by the white church which actively acts as a hurdle to social change instead of playing the role of a facilitator and is thereby limiting its relevance in people’s lives. Further he is highly optimistic about the outcome of the given struggle given the history of black people and the atrocities they have endured over time. Further he claims that though clergyman tend to assume themselves as non violent but they tend perpetuate injustice and violence through their public display of non violence which is reprehensible. He expresses his sorrow about the fact the clergymen did not even appreciate the non violent black protestors. Finally he apologies for the sheer length and possible overstatement of the underlying letter but hopes that the readers would tend to appreciate the underlying cause and situation behind the same.

The main purpose of the “Letter from Birmingham Jail” is to address the concerns of those clergymen who were critical of the actions of Dr. King and Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) with regard to Birmingham protests. He opposes charge of being an “Outsider” who came with the purpose of stirring trouble in Birmingham by telling the fact that since SCLC though based in Atlanta has spread over all South and hence came over on the invitation of one of the affiliates. Further Dr. King reflects that he has come to fight injustice (racial discrimination) which needs to be fought irrespective of the underlying geography and the clergymen have failed to understand the root cause of the protests.

Further Dr. King elaborates on the underlying process of revolt. It was confirmed by SCLC that institutional racism was being practiced in Birmingham and hence futile attempts were made to negotiate with white business leaders to rectify the situation which led to the decision of organizing a non violent protest. Because of the impending mayor elections, SCLC decided to postpone the protests but when the selected successor was also a pronounced racist, SCLC had no choice but to proceed with the protests. This protest was necessary to create the necessary tensions in the society which would lead the various parties (in this case clergyman) to the negotiation table with the intent to resolving the underlying issue.

Now he responds to the second criticism levelled by the clergymen regarding the untimely nature of the protests. He claims for the privileged community desirous of maintaining the status quo, all protests would be ill timed because of the moral change they intend to bring. He reflects at the fact that the Black community has waited long enough (i.e. more than 340 years) and simultaneously reflects on the atrocities faced by the black community including her daughter only because of their underlying skin colour. Hence it is imperative that the whites should understand the seemingly impatience of the black men.

Further he responds to the claim regarding the willingness of the black men to break law. In this context, he hints that first the white community need to adhere to the laws which ensure equality. Besides he advocates that any law which fails to honour and safeguard human dignity is an unjust law and thus must be protested against. The adherence of such unjust laws creates a false divide between the oppressors and oppressed. Besides he points towards some laws being inherently unjust due to their malign intent while some becoming unjust due to their misuse to perpetuate atrocity on the unprivileged. He understands that if everyone starts breaking the law then a situation of anarchy would prevail and hence if willing to face consequence of breaking any unjust law.

Dr.King is highly critical of the white moderate who in pursuit of order have sacrificed justice and thus responsible for the existing racial discrimination. Infact he is amazed that they cannot differentiate between non violent protest and violent perpetuated by the oppressors and also the fact that they blame blacks for the violence caused. Also he is critical of the moderate’s approach of buying time since he believes that only action can bring the desired change.

Then he turns his attention to the allegation regarding SCLC being violent where he acknowledges that there are two extreme factions and that he represents a middle path of peaceful protest which more people should be allowed to follow or else it would result in heightened extremism. Further he quotes men such as Jesus and Abraham Lincoln who also were labelled as extremists and hence takes pride in calling himself one because of the underlying moral cause of emancipation of the blacks.

He also expresses disappointment at the stance taken by the white church which actively acts as a hurdle to social change instead of playing the role of a facilitator and is thereby limiting its relevance in people’s lives. Further he is highly optimistic about the outcome of the given struggle given the history of black people and the atrocities they have endured over time. Further he claims that though clergyman tend to assume themselves as non violent but they tend perpetuate injustice and violence through their public display of non violence which is reprehensible. He expresses his sorrow about the fact the clergymen did not even appreciate the non violent black protestors. Finally he apologies for the sheer length and possible overstatement of the underlying letter but hopes that the readers would tend to appreciate the underlying cause and situation behind the same.

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My Assignment Help. (2017). The Essay 'Letter From Birmingham Jail' Serves A Significant Purpose.. Retrieved from https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/birmingham-jail-letter.

"The Essay 'Letter From Birmingham Jail' Serves A Significant Purpose.." My Assignment Help, 2017, https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/birmingham-jail-letter.

My Assignment Help (2017) The Essay 'Letter From Birmingham Jail' Serves A Significant Purpose. [Online]. Available from: https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/birmingham-jail-letter
[Accessed 26 February 2024].

My Assignment Help. 'The Essay 'Letter From Birmingham Jail' Serves A Significant Purpose.' (My Assignment Help, 2017) <https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/birmingham-jail-letter> accessed 26 February 2024.

My Assignment Help. The Essay 'Letter From Birmingham Jail' Serves A Significant Purpose. [Internet]. My Assignment Help. 2017 [cited 26 February 2024]. Available from: https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/birmingham-jail-letter.

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