Analysis of “Letter from Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King, Jr.

“When you believe in something, fight for it. And when you see injustice, fight harder than you’ve ever fought before”(Brad Meltzer). In the essay, “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. uses personal experience, people of the past, and events from the past to strengthen his argument for the need of equality and peace for the African American community during a civil rights movement in the South. In his essay to the community regarding the discrimination and poor treatment of the people of color, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is attempting to create peace and an understanding in order to alleviate racial prejudice.

In the middle of his essay, King attempts to illustrate a picture of the lives of African Americans and the struggles they go through on a daily basis hoping that the readers get an understanding of what it is like. An example of this is when he states, “ Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, ‘Wait.’ … when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading ‘white’ and ‘colored’; harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience”(king 7-8). This shows the empathy and compassion Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is trying to get the readers perceive. In addition to this, King wants people to understand the hardship and frustration they face daily.

Later in his essay, King is presenting to the reader that the laws are not equal with the intention of comparing the past to the present. This is shown when he states, “We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was ‘legal’ … It was illegal to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my jewish brothers”(King 10). Many colored people were disclosed to many places that include restaurants, stores, amusement parks, and even basic needs like restrooms and fountains. Many understand that what happened in Germany was unlawful and corrupt, but are blinded to the fact that what they were experiencing is just as bad as what Dr. King mentions.

By appealing to the emotions of the clergymen and demonstrating logic and authority, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. attempts to gain freedom and equality from discrimination of the laws and basic necessities. In addition to this he attempts to achieve peace from the ongoing violence for those of color. Although King has gone through difficulties growing up as a colored man, he uses his powerful words rather than violence to prove his point.

Frederick Douglass, Nelson Mandela, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and many other powerful people who fought for the rights and freedom of the black community are being let down. Racial inequality is occuring in the United States after decades of trying to dispel of it. In the essay, “Walking While Black”, Garnette Cadogan uses his intimate background and current life to explain the struggles and difficulties many people of color go through on a daily basis. In his essay regarding injustice and hardship, Garnette Cadogan is attempting to demonstrate the ongoing diversity towards people of color hoping to show others that being colored in the United States can be dangerous and can be seen as a threat.

In the beginning of his essay, Garnette is trying to understand the diversity of color between where he comes from and the United States, in order to live a safe life. This is shown when Garnette states, “A city was waiting to be discovered, and I wouldn’t let inconvenient facts get in the way. These American criminals are nothing on Kingston’s, I thought. They’re no real threat. What no one had told me was that I was the one who would be considered a threat. I wasn’t prepared for any of this. I had come from a majority-black country in which no one was wary of me because of my skin color”(Garnette 5). This shows the innocence of many newcomming colored people. In addition to this, Garnette tries to get the reader to understand that one’s appearance can lead to many misinterpretations.

Later in his essay, Garnette is presenting the fear and unease he has gone through in order to display that doing the wrong thing or mishandling a simple situation can lead to something intense and dangerous. This is shown when he states, “After a sumptuous Italian dinner and drinks with friends, I was jogging to the subway at Columbus Circle – I was running late to meet another set of friends at a concert downtown. I heard someone shouting and I looked up to see a police officer approaching with his gun trained on me”(Garnette 13). This specific piece of evidence reveals how a simple gesture, in this case jogging, caused a major disturbance of peace and equality. If this were to be done by a non colored person, there would be no problem with it at all. Pure and modest acts should not be stressed over or led to negativity.

America, the land of the free, does not give everyone the freedom that they deserve. This is due to racial inequality and discrimination. Civil liberty should be given to every individual, and controversy with diverse people should be put to an end. Maintaining peace between races should be a goal we want to accomplish, but it takes the whole society to reach it.