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George Stinney, the Scottsboro boys, James Hanover Thompson, and David Simpson; these are just the names of a few little Black boys ranging from 6 to preteens that were jailed and even murdered because of the color of their skin. The black communities were treated like criminals and lesser than humans by the hands of the white people’s discrimination. Black children were barred from students who had white kids, barred from food markets, barred from restaurants; the Black community faced inequality every single day. Being tired of being treated as if they weren’t humans, the black community created the Civil Rights movement whereas white racist people didn’t take too kindly to their protest. In the “Letter from Birmingham Jail” the author Martin Luther King Jr. responds to his criticizers claiming he won’t back down from his protests as it is just to break laws when those laws are unjust. To support his position, he uses the reoccurring themes of racism and justice.
Martin Luther King Jr. addresses his critic’s concerns about him only going to Birmingham to cause trouble when he was fulfilling a promise to a local affiliation of his organization; which was to go down to Birmingham and engage in a nonviolent direct-action program if it were needed. However, although his attendance was based on a promise, he also provides a moral reason to his visitation. Dr. King calls out his critic’s ignorance towards the racism and discrimination causing their protest, claiming he is compelled to fight injustice in any place it is located, therefore his moral justification is to combat the injustice being practiced in Birmingham. He establishes a rational tone to refute the protests image as lawbreakers.
Dr. King goes on to emphasizes the justification for protests as they are necessary to combat injustice and racism, turning the critics word on themselves; his critics claim to express concern about Dr. King’s behavior yet they are so openly ok with the systematic racism being placed in Birmingham.
Addressing what the Black community had faced in Birmingham’s community segregation, he points out the effect it can have on his community, deeming it “humiliating”. He pegs that the effect has a psychological impact on black individuals as white merchants add “no blacks” sign to take it down but then put it back on. Therefore, the psychological effect of discrimination is justification to take direct action.
Dr. King clarifies the goal of his protests; which was to force a situation that’ll make the white folks uncomfortable as only till then, they will be willing to make negotiations. And in this case, with his critics calling out his protests, it appears to be working.
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