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Letter from Birmingham Jail: Essay Samples

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. relentlessly pursued justice of the black community in America until his assassination on April 4, 1968.

Essay Samples

In his letter from Birmingham jail, Dr. King states that opposing segregation was the right choice and notes that he had no fear of the consequences. He was ready to give his life in pursuance of justice of the black community who had long suffered from the oppression of the whites. Dr. King lived in Atlanta, Georgia and was a leader of civil rights movements advocating for the end to the racial segregation in America (Chenoweth & Hooker, 2014).

He was a religious preacher and strongly believed that pursuing justice was in no way a violation of the law. King valued moral authority over the oppressive laws. Therefore he was ready to die pursuing justice and standing for what was morally right.

The Value of Justice, Essay Samples

America was engulfed by racial segregation where powerful whites perceived blacks as inferior people and subjected them to inhuman livelihood. Most of the black people performed manual labor in farms and factories getting low wages. The black children could not play in the public parks because they could mix with their white peers there.

Also, the public schools did not admit black children in areas where there were white people. There were many cases of police brutality against the black people (Sen, 2017). The police physically assaulted the suspects and subjected them to inhumane conditions in cells and jails, violating the Constitution and the law.

In 1963, there were many cases of inhumane acts against the black community in Birmingham. Martin Luther King moved to Birmingham to spearhead a nonviolent protest against the injustice. Eight white religious leaders of the south perceived him as an outsider who had come to incite the black people with an intention of causing anarchy.

Dr. King related his action with the call of the biblical figures such as the prophets and St. Paul (Chenoweth & Hooker, 2014).

These characters answered the call of God and moved away from home to do the work of their commissioning. Dr. King believed he was obliged to do the same, and to even die for his cause if necessary. His standing for the justice of the black community was not limited to the state boundaries of the country. 

The Value of Moral Authority

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. believed in staying true to his conscience. He opposed the state authorities for violating the rights of the black community. As a Christian preacher and leader, Dr. King was aware of the consequences of opposing the authority.

He quoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego as heroes of defending the moral authority (Chenoweth & Hooker, 2014).

These historical figures did not obey the law of King Nebuchadnezzar because it was an insult to their God. They chose to die for their faith, being accused of civil disobedience. 

Similarly to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Dr. King did not fear being accused of civil disobedience. He did not believe that the law should allow for injustice against black people in the society. The decision to oppose the oppressing governments was a result of his choice to live up to the value of moral authority (Sen, 2017).

Other religious leaders also believed that equality was only possible in the American society if segregation had been completely erased as an issue. However, they could not rise against the authorities, failing to fight for the justice of the black community because of the fear and unwillingness to break the law. They chose to wait until the right regime would come to power and improve the lives of the marginalized. On the contrary, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. believed that moral authority calls for taking action that would put pressure on the government that is reluctant to impose necessary changes (Chenoweth & Hooker, 2014). King valued moral authority over civil obedience and was ready to die for it if needed. 


Chenoweth, V. & Hooker, J.(2014). A discussion of gospel of freedom: Martin Luther King, Jr.'s letter from Birmingham jail and the struggle that changed a nation by Jonathan Rieder. Perspectives on Politics, 12(3), 718-719.
Sen, A. (2017). Ethics and the foundation of global justice. Ethics & International Affairs,31(3), 261-270. doi:10.1017/S0892679417000193