Martin Luther King Jr. was an African American who worked for racial equality and civil rights in the United States of America. He was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia. From my perspective, King brought to the world’s attention how unfairly blacks were treated equally to white people. Letter from Birmingham jail can teach contemporary leaders a lot about what African Americans had to go through in their everyday lives such as discrimination, police brutality, and the fear of not knowing when it could be their last day or their children’s. King had the help of millions of African Americans, but his leadership helped give African Americans the courage to keep working peacefully when others did not. In August 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. was imprisoned in Birmingham jail. In his letter, King speaks on his defense about the nonviolent demonstrations against segregation and describes the urgency of his and his fellow staff members’ acts. This letter captures King’s ability to lead through the use of language. Although King was writing a letter addressed to clergymen, his intentions were beyond that by addressing the community as a whole. I believe King’s effectiveness in “Letter from Birmingham Jail” was written to persuade the audience to take initiative, explain injustices towards the community, and explain King’s actions to confirm the measures he took were necessary. I. strongly believe, by helping the people in Birmingham he helps people from everywhere because “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. Meaning that King believed that if injustice in Birmingham is not put to an end it will spread to other cities in the United States and other parts of the world. While also this statement gives good reason for black’s desire to have equal rights. King’s purpose was to let the clergyman of Birmingham and many other white liberals from all around know that being a certain color should not determine being treated unjustly and that King was also a clergyman, not an outsider.
Injustices are something that almost every African American experiences throughout their lifetime and seems to be ranked number one for the African American race. King implies that blacks have been through hell and back and now it is time to break that shell. King states, “But when have you seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick, brutalize, and even kill your brothers and sisters with impunity” (King 2). By stating this I believe King’s point is that being an African American is not a costume, style nor act. There are no breaks because everyday blacks live a stereotype that other races cannot relate to. It seems as if to be successful is living the white way and only the white way. Many blacks can say that they themselves or someone they know have witnessed or experienced the devastating act of police brutality. For example, to this day there have been many sources of police brutality; one that has affected the African American community is the case of Robert Davis. Davis was a retired teacher from New Orleans not only arrested but beaten by police as well due to a suspicion of him being intoxicated when he wasn’t. None of the officers involved in the case were fired or suspended, but the charges were dropped. Going through an experience like this is emotional for the whole black community because it could happen to anyone, it makes people doubt trusting the system and wondering who they call on for help when needed which can also cause serious psychological distress for those involved. Why should police who risk their own lives and have the power to take the lives of others be exempt from consequences?
Explaining his actions to the world was one of King’s biggest goals out of respect to anyone he could have offended and by providing insight on what African Americans had to face and how hard trying to gain a right that should have been granted to them from the startled to being arrested, killed or even scarred for life. King not only thinks of himself or just African Americans but equality for people everywhere. It was a right that everyone deserves not because of the color of their skin but because of their human. Unlike King, many people to this day still hold grudges due to something that has constantly caused them pain. King states, “If I have said anything in this letter that is an understatement of the truth and is indicative of an unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me” (King 6). However, I believe King apologizes to show how even if you believe you are right others still have their own opinions. With this being said, King puts his pride to the side although he knows what he said throughout his letter is reasonable and right because doing so is a milestone to the world ending racial segregation and becoming a better place for themselves and future generations in due time.
In addition, Throughout the essay, King’s tone is very persuasive and disappointed. Even though Martin Luther King Jr. was in jail, he explained his reasoning in a well-mannered way. King was very disappointed in the white clergymen when stating “I was rather disappointed that fellow clergymen would see my nonviolent efforts of those as an extremist” (King 4). Instead of attacking, King respected them well enough to still think of them as “fellow clergymen” which symbolizes his main point of equality. King persuades the reader by showing the painful experience that African Americans had to go through on a day-to-day basis from childhood to adult. This makes the reader put themselves in the author’s shoes, to understand the true feeling behind the situation that is occurring.
Lastly, King ends his letter off by saying “If I have said anything in this letter that is an understatement of the truth and is indicative of an unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me” (King 6). In conclusion, this quote shows why people think highly of Martin Luther King Jr., because not only does he consider African American’s feelings but also white moderates as well. Dr. King believed in protesting in nonviolent ways, he felt that people should choose loving solutions, and not hateful ones. King has been an important key figure to the black community by explaining to society the way blacks lived and what they went through in their everyday lives as far as discrimination, police brutality, and the fear of not knowing when it could be their last day or their children’s. What we can learn from Letter from Birmingham Jail is that there are different ways to go about our problems as a community and how trying to solve problems peacefully will not always give you the desired results. He and others remained peaceful because they believed change would be made and things would improve. However, King and the people who supported him realized things were not falling in place and it was time to take action considering that African Americans could not wait any longer for something that should have been granted to them the day they took their first breath on earth. Without Martin Luther King Jr. and the people who supported his decisions racial segregation could possibly still be a thing to this day. The “Letter from Birmingham Jail” is a channel through which one may view the deep complications of King’s reality and the reality for many blacks in Birmingham in 1963.