Martin Luther King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail," his response to criticism from eight white clergymen regarding his presence in Birmingham, Alabama, during a bus boycott brought about by egregious actions of the City of Birmingham, has more than one main point.
First, King must respond directly to the criticism that he should not have involved himself in the Birmingham racial unrest, which, according to his critics, would work itself out in time. King's larger argument is that racial inequality does not "work itself out." Rather, those who suffer from inequality must take the steps—in King's case, nonviolent steps—necessary to insure that long-overdue equality is established.
To answer the first criticism, King points out that he is in Birmingham because he has been invited by a group with which he is affiliated, and he and his followers are simply honoring their obligation to support those in Birmingham who are suffering under the dominant white power structure in that city. More...
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