This piece is a summary of the Letter from Birmingham Jail written by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on April 16, 1963. At the time King was extremely grieved by the way the church, especially the white clergy, was not in support of the religious civil rights movement. He wrote this letter as a disgruntled response to the church's separation of holy and worldly matters concerning his cause.
King was in Birmingham because he is the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; the organization was associated with eighty-five others in the southern United States. An Alabama partner asked for his presence and participation in a non-violent protest. The fundamental reason that King was in Birmingham was because there was inequality there. He was lead out of his normal surroundings to aid minister to others just as the Apostle Paul was.
King believed that we are all part of one large union; if something has an effect on one of us, has an effect on all of us. He asks the white moderate clergy if they really want to be at peace after dealing with the surface of a problem, and leaving its source affluent. King believes white supremacists gave the oppressed African Americans no choice but to act out.
King next states the four steps of a peaceful protest: research proving discrimination; discussion; self-cleansing; and precise steps taken. He goes on to discuss Birmingham's infamous history of racial discrimination and segregation. In the past the city had made many false promises and devastated countless aspirations. According to King the tension created by direct action is the key to getting results. Negotiation is a much more noble approach, but yields fewer results. King believed that direct action would create chaos that would open the door for negotiation.
King next addresses the inquiry of why he did not wait to see if the new administration within the city a chance to remedy the injustice. The ...