In order to get closer to the one of the most acute problems in the contemporary society, let’s define the main concept. Considering racism as discrimination against individuals or social groups of people or groups of people, the policy of persecution, humiliation, shame task, violence and hatred on the basis of skin colour, ethnicity, religion or national origin, such people who are who are exposed to the influence of the racial discrimination at once turn into stigmatized ones. It can be called so as there exists a belief the that there are groups of people with special (usually physical) characteristic traits that make them higher or inferior in relation to others which results in elementary neglect or ignore those who believe different or inferior beings.
Ideological origins of the racial doctrine of human society emerged in the eighteenth century, when there anthropology - a new scientific discipline that the empirical methods of trying to define man's place in nature. Mass widespread use of stereotypes, and it was believed that a variety of physical traits indicates the existence of mental, psychological and cultural differences. Later there was a tendency to explain mental or moral properties by the same constant heredity, which were conditioned and physical features.
One of the first people who was not afraid to express his point of view concerning the problem of racism was the Baptist pastor and fighter for civil rights of the black population of the US Martin Luther King. For his efforts and ardent desire to overcome the racism which existed at that time he was arrested for about 29 times. During one of those arrests he fielded a newspaper page next to the advertisement of pest control and gardening news wrote an appeal to his fellow priests of the state Alabama. “Letter from Birmingham Jail” is one of the most important documents in today’s world. It is believed that this document is a landmark in the history of the liberation movements for human rights and the best expression of non-violent resistance.
This letter renowned by the black preacher who wrote in response to the appeal, which was characterized by the activities of the clergy black activists as “unreasonable” and criticized visitors as ‘outsiders’ for organizing demonstrations, spoke approvingly about the city authorities and the police. King’s letter is the direct response to criticism of his ideas by the church representatives. According to the author of the document, he is in prison because of the lack of justice in his hometown. Its mission, for which he was seized and thrown in jail, King compares with the mission of the Old Testament prophets and the Apostle Paul, who carried the Gospel to the ends of their villages. Martin Luther King draws a parallel with Socrates, “who felt the need to create tension in the minds of people so that they can rise above the restricting their mythical beliefs and half-truths and freely attain a high level of creative analysis and objective assessments, we should feel the need of stinging wasps non-violence, which create in our society a climate of tension, helps a person to rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.”
White pastors’ charges King found an answer in a way of the eternal and universal truth. King was accused for his struggle for the human rights and first of all his personal right to be equal with others. Moreover, he claims that “There is a kind of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth.” (Loritts 7)
While being in this cell, King was deeply convinced that in the US something that is the most valuable for him namely freedom can be reached and it is possible to gain justice that in any case will prevail: “I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle. We will achieve this goal namely freedom because the goal America is freedom. Our destiny is tied up with America's destiny the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands. “Someday - King concluded, - the South will recognize its real heroes.” (Gaipa 10).
Turning to the priests, Baptist preacher rebukes them for what they condemn the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. In particular, he writes: “Taking into account the results without trying to understand hidden causes, I am sure none of you would decide to stoop to the level of the surface of the sociologist.”
Martin Luther King focuses on the fact that the resistance offered by blacks in Birmingham, as in other cities in the state of Alabama, is a peaceful, non-violent resistance. All the same non-violent resistance, said King, constructed as follows. The first should be the collection of facts, which helps to establish whether there is injustice, if it exists, then begins the process of negotiations, and as a result of a process of self-purification, in other words, situation shows who is who, and the last stage - a stage of direct action by non-violent resistance. Direct actions this is the last stage and extreme activity. It occurs when the negotiations with the government no longer bring any results. At such times “direct action to delay no longer.” It is sacrificing himself protesters appeal to the conscience of society, both here and in the city, and even across the country. King writes that “the purpose of nonviolent action - to create such a crisis and a tension fraught with consequences to society, has steadfastly refused to negotiate, was forced to look facts in the face.” Direct actions aimed at a “dramatization of the problem so that it could no longer be ignored.”
King rightly pointed out that people very often from the lips of the priests heard the word “Wait!”, But in fact this “wait” almost always means “never.” To those who have never experienced shock batons police on his back, lived in poverty and was not placed in the context of social injustice, it is easy to say “Wait!” King leads a lot of examples of how power acted unfairly with his black brothers. It is worth mentioning at least the following lines from his letter: “If you have seen hate filled policemen insulted with impunity, kicked brutally beaten and even killed your friends and neighbours; if you remember that the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothered in poverty amidst plenty surrounding society, that's when you realize why it unbearable to wait any longer.” Appealing to the legitimate impatience, Martin Luther King wrote: “That's why patience is full, and people do not want more than to be plunged into the abyss of injustice where they experience a corrosive sense of despair.”
For King, “Injustice anywhere else can be considered as a threat to justice everywhere.” He believes that all people of the United States of America can be united with some common destiny. Moreover, the fate of this thread permeates the relationship with other members of the human race.
As in the days of King, and now, the official representatives of the clergy, have expressed concern about the fact that participating in protests and demonstrations are willing to break the law. “How can you obey the same laws and disturbing others?” asked those who criticize the King and his supporters. King writes that it is a natural concern and that this is always worth remembering that there are two types of laws: just and not fair. Statement says it like that, who are willing to submit in the first place the very first ready to obey just laws. This submission is not only a legal but also a moral obligation. On the other hand, the moral responsibility is and to disobey an unjust law. In support of its argument King quotes St. Augustine, who once said that “an unjust law - this is not the law.” (Loritts 9)
King is a great supporter of the thought that it important to breaks an unjust law. But this should be done “openly and without hatred” and being prepared for punishment that can follow such a violation. It is the man who breaks an unjust law, and readily accepts the punishment that may lead him even in prison, awakens their actions shame in contemporary society for the injustice with which they have long been resigned, and thereby set an example of deep respect to this the law itself. That's why the one, who started on the path of non-violence, should be prepared to answer at least the following two questions: “Can you take punches without trying to answer them? In the state of whether you go through the ordeal of prison?” All that is necessary to pass on the grounds that the lesson of history consists in the following namely that “the privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily.”
Martin Luther King writes that throughout his career, he tried to stand between two opposing forces: “we do not have to follow any” doing nothing “reconciled, nor hatred and despair of the black nationalist. Here’s how Martin Luther King would turn to the heads of evangelical churches: “Negro have a lot of repressed resentment, it has long been overwhelmed with difficulty restrained indignation. He should give it all out. So give him the opportunity to go out sometimes to demonstrate; let him make requests to the city authorities. Understand why he would need sit-ins and freedom raids. If his repressed emotions will not find out in non-violent actions, they show up in the sinister acts of violence. This is not a threat, it is a historical fact. So I said to his people: “Get rid of the feelings of discontent,” and tried to explain that this is a normal and healthy sense must find a creative outlet in nonviolent direct action”
In general he wrote the message in defence of the strategy on non-violent resistance to racism in the United States. The general argument in the letter is that individuals have a moral duty to break unfair laws, and the authority to take action instead of withstanding long waits for justice to come from the courts. The letter drew much attention and got widely published becoming an integral text for the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s (Loritts 56). This essay focuses on Martin Luther’s assertion in his letter that the white moderates often “tend to agree with people in the goals they seek, but not with their methods of direct action” (King 724).
Interestingly, he argues that there are two types of laws, a just law and an unjust law. The just law conforms to the provisions of morality and the law of God while unjust laws are out of harmony with the ethical law and are often discriminatory. Notably, this assertion came about as a result of Martin Luther’s feeling that there were certain moderates who operated as Luke-wormers hiding behind myths of discrimination. Arguably, this existed amongst black in the United States at that time. He uses a very cruel tone while trying to bring out the exact situation in his letter describing such individuals as people who believe they can control other people’s freedom in the society.
He sounds angered by such individuals even considering a worse situation outright rejection as being better than the misunderstandings coming from individuals of ill will. He goes ahead to give examples of individuals who would be condemned for casual effects of their acts whether good or bad as long as they created an effect that was not acceptable to the dominant community. For instance, Jesus suffering on the cross through crucifixion simply because he taught Godly-conscious teachings and not giving up the pressures from the opposing sides (Gaipa 271). Conceivably, this is because they precipitate violence or bad luck while rejecting the positive effects that is caused by the same actions.
He goes ahead to argue that time, unlike the moderates’ view, is neutral and can be used either constructively or destructively. In fact, he asserts that individuals of bad will tend to use their time quite constructively than individuals having good will. The reasoning is that human progress should draw respect among all lifestyles since humans only gain success through continued industrious and relentless work. Additionally, in case of the absence of hard work, time can only be considered as an ally of social stagnation forces. Martin Luther portrays himself in the letter as understanding more about the human nature and the requirements of peaceful coexistence of variant cultures. He also explains how individuals continued to break laws even after the 1954 Supreme Court’s decision that outlawed segregation in public schools. He became a victim of the paradoxical consciousness in law breaking of this nature. Simply expressed, his letter teaches humans the importance of being accommodative and cognizant of other people’s cultures and way of life as a primary way to draw respect.
Therefore, to eliminate bias means not only do away with acts of discrimination, but also change the thoughts and feelings of a person to members of another group. Thus the words of Martin Luther King “I have a dream.” These words were articulated round half a century ago by the American civil rights fighter Martin Luther King. He often repeated them in his famous speech, expressing the hope that one day racial prejudice will disappear once and for all. He wanted a better future for people in the US, but his dream is close to the hearts of people around the world.
Martin Luther King is thought to be a person who has revolutionized the thoughts of the people concerning the global problem. He confessed that he was not afraid of the word “conflict”. Moreover, he was sincerely opposed to the violent conflict, but there are constructive, non-violent conflicts, which are necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a conflict in the mind in order to enable people to free themselves from the shackles of myths and half-truths and come in an unlimited range of creative analysis and objective assessments, and we must see the need for nonviolent injections that will create the kind of society conflict that will help people to rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the shining heights of brotherhood and mutual understanding. The purpose of King’s direct-action program was to create a situation so crisis that it would inevitably open the way for negotiations. Thus the main solution to the problem which was considered as an acute was to negotiate in order to make all people equate the rights of all people regardless of the color of skin and ethnicity.
Martin Luther King truly became the first black African American, who was heard, not accepted but heard. Because of the speech “I Have a Dream” which was written then in the newspaper, Luther King was estimated not only as the fighter for the human rights but as an individual who is not afraid to break the rules and speak freely in attempt to change the course of events. In his speech, King managed to touch the strings of the basic cultural code Americans. He supported his thesis with quotations from the Bible, not only, but also of the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution. The end of the speech, King said he wants to see how the American future. “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live to see the true meaning of its creed: We hold self-evident, that all men are created equal.” (Loritts 10)
Rieder, Jonathan. Gospel of Freedom: Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Letter from Birmingham Jail and the Struggle That Changed a Nation, 2013. Print.
It is a recently published book the author of which not only reflects the plot of the Letter written by King but has an in-depth analysis of the King’s position in the struggle for the human rights. This position is depicted in all his works, one of which claims that a law that upholds human wellbeing is considered just while those that are not regarded as unjust (Rieder 56). Moreover, having interviewed some King’s colleagues and friends, the author manages to recreate the main goals which were set in this Letter and find the spiritual persuasive in King’s actions.
Gaipa, Mark. “A Creative Psalm of Brotherhood”: The (De)constructive Play in Martin Luther King's “Letter from Birmingham Jail” Quarterly Journal of Speech. 93.3 (2007): 279-307
He claims that “one who breaks an unjust law, to awaken the conscience of society in reality expressing the highest respect for the law” provided that the acts “openly, lovingly and willingly accept the punishment.” (Gaipa 16). This source distinguishes from other books and articles with its thorough analysis of how the manner of King’s writing, the figures whom this Letter is addressed impact the general significance of the Letter. Combining different contexts and providing a number of arguments totally against the inequality in the human rights and segregation the author tries to overcome an obstacle of misunderstanding the main goal of this Letter.
Loritts, Bryan. Letters to a Birmingham Jail: A Response to the Words and Dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. , 2014. Internet resource.
According to the Loritts, injustice anywhere is considered as a threat to justice everywhere. It is undeniable that people at that time were caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny that in an ultimate result affected everything indirectly.” (Loritts 4) Thus the importance of the book consists in discussing the role of Martin Luther King in his fight for the racial justice as well as the equality of the civil rights. Moreover, this book is also concerned on the challenges which were faced by King and their motivating role in struggling with the racialized and segregated country.
Bouie, Jamelle. Racism Not a Problem Anymore? Don't Be Ridiculous, It's Still a Big Issue. 2013. The Daily Beast.
Murray, Paul T., College, Siena. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Letter from Birmingham Jail”. 1963. Milestone documents.
The plot of this book is closely connected to the plot of the mentioned above sources since the author provides his personal outlook on how this Letter influences the further course of events, expressing regret that the letter clerics “There is no such concerns about the causes of these demonstrations” (Murray, 12). Considering the time frameworks of writing this Letter and conditions the author wants to reflect the correct image of the issue called racism at that time.
Allen, Barbara. Martin Luther King’s “Letter from the Birmingham City Jail”: Agape, Interest, And Justice. 1994. Internet resource.
This source mainly concerns on defining King’s Letter as the main proof of the segregation and its violent consequences for most of the people who were “black”. Moreover, the author claims that King appears to be portraying the public (moderate whites), as people who would simply condemn the actions of individuals (Barbara, 23). There are also distinguished peculiarities of the people who were deprived of certain rights.
Burnett, Bob. Racism: What’s the Problem? 2014. Huffpost Politics. Internet resource.
This article is not focused on discussing the King’s Letter as the main artifact which proves the existence of the racial segregation and its significance for defining the reasons of the numerous fights and struggles for the civil rights.