Dr. King explains the difference between an unjust law versus a just one when defending the breaking of laws. What is the important point in his argument?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Dr. King makes it clear that there is an order or structure that must be followed.  Its presence must be respected.  Yet, this order is one that is predicated upon Christian ideals and the sense of justice that pervades it.  In this light, Dr. King makes it clear in his letter that if one wishes to serve this higher notion, they must disobey laws that are unjust to this end.  Dr. King makes it abundantly evident that segregation laws are unjust.  They represent values that are not consistent with both American democracy and Christian goodness.  In this light, it makes sense to disobey these laws in a peaceable manner that actively stresses civil disobedience.  Dr. King's distinction between the just and unjust laws is made to those who make the argument that he is an "anarchist," one that does not follow laws.  Dr. King's point is to argue that he does believe in laws that are just and honorable, synonyms that do not apply to segregation.  In making this distinction, he also makes it clear to people of color that if they are supporting the laws of segregation for fear of taking a stand, in a sense, they actively support injustice and laws that violate Christian tenets through their inaction.


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