Letter From Birmingham Jail: Important quotes with page
1. “I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Simply as the prophets of the 8th century B. C. left their towns and carried their ‘thus saith the Lord’ far beyond the borders of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco-Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of liberty beyond my hometown.” (Page 86) King’s Christian faith was a crucial part of his engagement with the Civil Rights Movement.
In this quote, he explains that his participation in the demonstrations in Birmingham place him squarely in the tradition of Christians who went from place to location, some extremely far from the houses, to preach the gospel. King’s gospel in this case is a social and political one that upsets for flexibility.
2. “Oppression anywhere is a danger to justice all over. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality incorporated a single garment of destiny. Whatever impacts one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with a narrow, provincial ‘outdoors agitator’ concept.
Anybody who lives inside the United States can never ever be thought about an outsider anywhere within its bounds.” (Page 87) In this quote, King utilizes the principle of the interrelatedness of all communities to make the argument that expected outsiders like King are in fact experts because inequality is a national concern. This argument is likewise developed to resist a frequent allegation that segregationists made against activists, particularly that they were outside agitators who had no business meddling in affairs in neighborhoods beyond their own.
3. “In any nonviolent project there are four basic actions: collection of the realities to determine whether injustices exist; settlement; self filtration; and direct action. We have gone through all these actions in Birmingham.” (Page 87) Among the criticisms to which King responds is that the Birmingham protests are unforeseen. In this quote, he counters this argument by arguing that the protests were simply the next logical action in the process. This quote is just among many examples of King’s usage of appeals to factor.
4. “We know through unpleasant experience that flexibility is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” (Page 91) In this quote, King makes an argument for the more militant, assertive stance of the protestors for civil liberties. This stance is a direct response to critics who thought the easing of inequality would occur without direct intervention by activists.
5. “Just as Socrates felt that it was needed to develop a stress in the mind so that people could increase from the chains of misconceptions and half truths to the unfettered world of creative analysis and unbiased appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men increase from the dark depths of prejudice and bigotry to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.” (Page 90) In this quote, King establishes credibility for his position by using a highly regarded figure, Socrates, as an example of the role irritants like King can play in improving society.
6. “We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God offered rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed towards acquiring political independence, however we still creep at horse and buggy speed toward getting a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Possibly it is simple for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to state, ‘Wait. ‘” (Page 91-92) By putting the African-American struggle for flexibility in the context of centuries of waiting, King helps the audience to see that the struggle for freedom is not surprisingly urgent.
By pointing out that worldwide movements for freedom are likewise increasing, King assists the reader to comprehend the U. S. is far behind. This quote is likewise an example of the interrelatedness of movements in your home and abroad.
7.” [T] here are two kinds of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to promote complying with simply laws. One has not only a legal however an ethical obligation to comply with just laws. On the other hand, one has a moral duty to disobey unjust laws.” (Page 93) King utilizes an appeal to logic to distinguish between the 2 kinds of laws in order to avoid any appearance of hypocrisy arising out the protestors’ persistence that segregationists follow the law and their own desire to break the law.
8. “Of course, there is nothing new about this type of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the rejection of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to follow the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher ethical law was at stake […] In our own country, the Boston Tea ceremony represented a massive act of civil disobedience.” (Page 96) King references Christian and American examples of civil disobedience to help the clergymen understand that the actions of the protestors are not extreme at all.
By utilizing sources of authority that align with the beliefs of his audience, King makes it more likely that the clergymen will be won over to his viewpoint.
9. “I have practically reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s fantastic stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Resident’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, however the white moderate.” (Page 97) An essential purpose of this essay is to activate not only African-Americans however likewise white moderates, who had been resting on the sidelines of the Civil liberty Movement.
In this quote, King straight criticizes white moderates utilizing embellishment (overstatement) to drive home the point that their complacency and mindset towards African-Americans belong to the issue.
10. “Human development never ever rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the vigorous efforts of males ready to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself ends up being an ally of the forces of social stagnancy.” (Page 99) King utilizes metaphors connected with motion and inertia to reveal that active engagement in the struggle for flexibility, instead of passivity, will lead to alter.
11. ” [I] f they decline to support our nonviolent efforts, countless Negroes will, out of frustration and misery, look for solace and security in black nationalist ideologies– an advancement that would inevitably lead to a frightening racial headache.” (Page 101) King makes a pragmatic argument here by requiring the members of the audience to consider the alternative to nonviolent resistance: violent resistance. This is an efficient relocation since even people who were not in favor of nonviolent resistance would likely prefer it to black violence, a deep-seated worry of whites that dates all the method back to slave revolts.
12. “Oppressed individuals can not stay oppressed permanently. The yearning for freedom ultimately manifests itself, which is what has occurred to the American Negro. Something within has actually advised him of his bequest of liberty […] Purposely or unconsciously, he has been caught up by the Zeitgeist, and with his black siblings of Africa and his brown and yellow bros of Asia, South America and the Caribbean, the United States Negro is moving with a sense of excellent seriousness towards the promised land of racial justice.” (Page 101)
King links the motion for civil rights to global freedom motions, in orderto naturalize it. In addition, King obliquely recommendations the concept of natural law, the basis for self-government that is referenced in important fundamental documents of American democracy, such as the Declaration of Independence.
13. “However the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today’s church does not regain the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, surrender the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century.
Every day I meet young people whose dissatisfaction with the church has actually turned into straight-out disgust.” (Page 107) King presumes a more emotional tone when he goes over the failure of the church to appear for the Civil Liberty Motion. His expressions of dissatisfaction would likely move the primary audience, made up of clergymen, to embarassment, and thus make them more considerate to his position.
14. “I wish you had commended the Negro sit-inners and demonstrators of Birmingham for their sublime courage, their desire to suffer and their incredible discipline in the middle of great provocation. One day the South will recognize its real heroes.” (Page 110) A key intervention in much of King’s writing remains in the representation of African-Americans. While African-Americans were regularly provided as passive and inferior, King uses the figure of the African-American protester to recast them as heroic and deserving of respect.
15. “Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial bias will quickly pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear soaked communities, and in some not too far-off tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our excellent country with all their scintillating appeal.” (Page 112) King utilizes an extended metaphor to end the essay on a lighter, more hopeful note that contrasts with the denunciations, directed in part at his main audience, of the essential paragraphs.