Letter From Birmingham Prison Themes
The Interrelatedness of All Humanity A central facility of King’s nonviolence is that all human beings relate to each other by virtue of their location on the Earth and their shared status as humans in a system King believes was created by God. Although his belief in the interrelatedness of all mankind is based upon Christianity, King uses the principle to legitimize his work in Alabama, to make the case for the Civil Rights Motion as a nationwide motion, and to show that its methods are appropriate reactions to longstanding injustice.
King hailed Atlanta, Georgia, where he helped to discovered the Southern Christian Management Conference, and was a minister in Montgomery, Alabama, when he concerned prominence in the Civil Rights Motion. Over the course of the late 1950s and up till his death in 1968, he never ever confined his advocacy to his home neighborhood. Instead, King took as his example the early Christians he cites in “Letter from Birmingham Prison,” who took their message abroad.
King’s remarks in this particular essay highlight a notion of American and African-American identity that is nationwide rather of local, especially when he announces, “I can not sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what takes place in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a hazard to justice everywhere” (86 ). King’s belief in this connection ultimately encompasses global connections as well. He mentions numerous times that the protests in Birmingham and other parts of the South must be understood in the broader context of decolonization in African nations.
By reimagining each human being as a person of a country andas a resident of the world, King carves out an ethical basis for advocacy that presses against the argument that oppression is simply a regional issue that can just be solved by the communities in which oppression happens. Politics and the Church Although the United States preserved the separation in between religion and politics in its foundational files, religious beliefs has constantly been a powerful force in society. King, a Baptist minister with a postgraduate degree in theology, utilizes his faith as the foundation for his politics.
“Letter from Birmingham Prison,” which is directed at both a regional audience of ministers and a nationwide audience, describes in explicit detail that the demonstration motion remains in the custom ofearly Christian evangelism. For instance, he describes the protestors who beinged in at lunch counters as “disinherited children of God” who “remained in truth standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the most spiritual worths in our Judaeo-Christian [sic] heritage”( 111 ). King’s perspective on the link between the church and politics also reflects the more particular cultural context of the church in African-American culture and history.
The black church served as a space for political company in the absence of public and legally-sanctioned political participation for African-Americans for much of American history. Black churches played a crucial role in arranging African-Americans and providing material, financial, and spiritual support throughout the Civil liberty Motion. While the early Christian and modern-day black church serve as sources of a dynamic tradition of political activism, the mainline churches represented by the Alabama clergymen presenta disappointing contrast, in King’s viewpoint.
These churches counseled complacency or even active opposition to the Civil liberty Motion. While King acknowledges that not all clergymen rested on the sidelines, he takes the modern church to task for failing to measure up to the example of the early Christians. Nonviolent Direct Action versus Violence Nonviolent direct action is a form of activism that looks for to develop conditions that straight push the class structure to change or to make clear for a larger audience that the class structure is participated in oppression that needs to not be permitted to stand.
As a strategy, nonviolent direct action is congruent with King’s Christianity and his rejection of black nationalism. King’s belief in nonviolence stems from the precedent of the early Christian church and an American tradition of civil disobedience. King cites Jesus and early Christians like the Apostle Paul as people whose nonviolence and attacks on the status quo came from their Christian convictions.
There is likewise an American demonstration custom that is nonviolent, and King mentions the Boston Tea Party, for example, as just one of lots of nonviolent methods that early Americans utilized to object oppression. King also argues that nonviolence can offer a positive outlet for the frustration and anger African-Americans experience after centuries of oppression. King celebrates the heroism of African-American protestors, especially their “superb guts [and] determination to suffer and their remarkable discipline in the middle of excellent provocation” (110 ).
This heroism counters unfavorable stereotypes and shows that black accept of nonviolence is more suitable to the option of violence. It is essential to comprehend that at this minute, nonviolent direct action was just one of numerous possible actions to the ongoing oppression of African-Americans. Other groups advocated for violence or armed resistance throughout the 1960s, while some figures argued for a more gradual method to change since of their fear of civil condition.
Malcolm X, then a member of the Nation of Islam, for example, argued for black separation from whites and armed resistance when assaulted. King labeled such beliefs as examples of the “bitterness and hatred” that would end violently if other channels for useful modification were not enabled. While King’s embrace of nonviolence shows his belief in Christianity, it grows out of practical concerns, such as its capability to enhance representations of African-American identity and his belief that violence has not traditionally been effective in protecting change.