Martin Luther King has become a symbol of the movement for freedom. His words that “oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever” (King, pph. 20) inspired many people to fight for their rights. In the “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” King addressed clergymen though the message was sent to the masses that were oppressed. Though de jure the letter sounds like justification of protests in Birmingham, indeed it serves as an action plan for those who have not been reminded of the birthright of freedom yet. He wrote “the purpose of our direct program is to create a situation so crises-packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation” (King, pph. 7). Thus he truly believed that for each oppressed person there must be something which will wake him or her up to fight for their rights and freedoms. And this “something” should remind them that they can gain freedom because they were born equal in dignity and rights.
Frederick Douglass supports King’s opinion in his biography “My Bondage and My Freedom.” He himself experienced slavery, and felt this “urge for freedom” for his consciousness when started self-education. He did not say that knowledge automatically made him free. Douglass acquired this “earnest love of knowledge” (Douglass 37) that made injustice obvious and sharp, brining suffering. And this suffering “reminded him of his birthright of freedom” (King, pph. 20) and ensured that he could gain it.
Therefore, all people are entitled to be equal and have right to be free. Freedom is given to all humanity and no one has a power to deprive somebody of it. Despite the years of oppression and humiliation, people feel the urge for freedom that leads to revolutions and protests. This vital urge can be described as a driving force for “sit-ins and freedom rides” (King, 21). Moreover, once people have this urge, they are “moving with a sense of cosmic urgency toward the promised land of racial justice” (King, pph. 20).
In their striving to gain freedom, people become united regardless of their cultures, religions or races. King wrote that “this movement is nourished by the contemporary frustration over the continued existence of racial discrimination” (pph.19). That is why it provides a perfect basis for absolute racial equality. Civil rights movements are aimed not only to gain freedom, but to eliminate racial discrimination and segregation.
Racism is as old as the society itself. Some experts argue that it stems from discrimination which is based on the idea that some characteristics make particular group of people superior to another. According to King, it has roots in people, who by their deeds proved that “the white man is an incurable “devil” (pph. 19). Slavery, therefore, was brought about by racism and people “have been so completely drained of self-respect and a sense of somebodiness” (King, pph. 19).
Douglass, F. My Bondage and My Freedom. The Electronic Classic Series, 2004. PDF file.
King, M.L. “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” 1963. PDF file.