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Dr. King Essay, Research Paper

Excerpt from ?Letter from Birmingham Jail?

Martin Luther King Jr.

In Dr. King?s letter, he examines the differences between just and unjust laws. In

doing this he brings up many facts and ideas that support his theory completely. His

descriptive voice and powerful words allowed myself to feel the prejudice which tore the

South apart for quite sometime. He explains first what a law is and in order to be

considered a law there must be certain characteristics of it. He uses well known examples

and proves the whole judicial system wrong. He uses comparisons which could make any

person understand and agree. He backs up every statement and ties the fact that the South

would go nowhere with this type of ?anarchy.?

Dr. King contrasts between an unjust and just law. He defines a just law to be

morally respectful, religiously fair, and any law that makes a person feel secure. He

compares many others? definitions in his writing. He uses Saint Thomas Aquinas, Martin

Buber, Paul Tillich, and other very persuading ideas. His definition is a mixture of them

all, he perfectly states his definition when he explains why he was arrested. He was

arrested for parading without a permit. His parade was of good taste and being arrested

on that charge made the law unjust, however, if the parade was used for negative protest

then the law would be just.

The distinction between these two may seem unclear, but Dr. King then compares

it with Adolf Hitler and his reign in Germany. It was considered ?legal? to terminate Jews,

and Germany got nowhere. He also succeeds to show the Negroes respect for the law.

They consciously know they are breaking the law and they are willing to face their


He uses his definition of just and unjust laws and the way people react to them to

explain why the South is going to be barricade to civilization and a successful democratic

system. He states ?. . . the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for

the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the

dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.? (page 458) In

addition he is bringing out the ignored problem of this matter. He is not defying the

judicial system, but he is making them aware that the problem exists and needs to be fixed

in order to have a righteous society.

His arrest was considered peaceful, it would eventually would have sparked

negative emotions and possibly violence. He then attacks this matter and, again, he backs

it up completely. His comparison of a robbed man is perfect. He explains that since a

man may have, for instance, a nice car. That nice car is a target for a robber, so that car

should be banned because it ?precipitates? violence and theft. He compares his reason for

arrest to Socrates. Socrates should have been put away for trying to determine the truth

and other philosophical studies because it ?precipitated the act by the misguided populace

in which they made him drink hemlock.? (page 458) He goes on to even compare it to

Jesus and his devotion to God and religion would ignite the ?evil act of crucifixion.?

(page 458)

Dr. King uses the federal court has faithfully maintained that a group or person

must stop his constitutional right in a possible reaction may be violent. ?Society must

protect the robbed and punish the robber.? (page 458)

His last concern was a letter he received from a white man. The man explained

that the Christians took thousands of years to regain their respect and have fair laws. So

he is basically saying that the Black society must be patient. Dr. King responds to his

letter by first making him aware that time is neither good or bad, but can be used

?effectively? and ?ineffectively?. People who know they are going to die or leave home

use their sparring time wisely, as of people who are healthy and staying close to loved

ones just let the days go by. Dr. King says time should be used as an ally against the

?wait?. He wants the national democracy to acknowledge the problem and make its laws

so the superior a way of controlling the inferior in a positive way. Prejudice only gives the

lawmakers a false sense of power, and the segregated a false sense of the lawmakers.

How can a society maintain in that type of atmosphere? Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. felt

that there was no time like the present to solve this matter.

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