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The Sacrifice For Equality (Mlk Jr.)

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The Sacrifice for Equality

At the age of twenty-five, a recently ordained Baptist minister entered the city of Montgomery, Alabama. When Rosa Parks was forcefully taken off the bus in 1955, Edward D. Nixon, a leader of the NAACP realized that this could be a rallying point for the people of Montgomery to stand up for racial discrimination. Martin Luther King Jr., that same Baptist minister, was chosen to lead these people because of his wit and his great ability with public speaking. King believed that his movement would garner greater national attention, and would become more successful if the messages portrayed were of love and freedom (Martin).

Martin Luther King Jr. rallied tens of thousands of African-Americans who experienced injustice every single day. His ability to speak to the masses gave him respect within many circles, whether it was whites or blacks, Jews or Christians (Martin). After being jailed during a protest in Birmingham, Alabama, he writes one of his most famous pieces, "Letter From A Birmingham Jail." He writes to his "Fellow Clergymen" to fully lay out his reasoning for breaking an "unjust" law. King quotes Saint Thomas Aquinas's definition of just and unjust laws: "Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust" (King). In this definition, King gives legitimacy to fighting any segregation law that exists. King knows that what he is doing is not constitutionally legal, but believes it is important to change faults or oversights in the law that governs.

King displays his never-ending love and his passion for others in this letter, giving strong examples of those who have come before him. "Was Jesus not an Extremist in love...Was not Amos not an extremist for justice...Was not Paul an extremist for the gospel of Jesus Christ...Was not Martin Luther an extremist ...Was not John Bunyan an extremist...Was not Thomas Jefferson an extremist..." (King). King's point is to historically show an outsider that there have been many extremists throughout history that have been looked down upon during their era, but over time were revered for their great works. These men were successful because they were not extremists out of hate and violence. Their extremisms were all based off of love and prosperity, the exact same values that King preached.

It is important to King that anyone "who breaks an unjust law must do it openly, and lovingly...and with a willingness to accept the penalty." He points out anyone who views a law or other mandate immoral must be fully committed, but it must be done out of love. Any civil law, according to King, must be both moral and respected. A moral person will not injure or kill people to fight injustice with their own injustices. What Hitler did in Germany was technically legal, but was most definitely immoral (King).

King's influence as the rock for "some eighty-five affiliate organizations" (King) of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference truly drove the movement to a point where over two hundred thousand Americans marched into Washington D.C. to listen to one of the most famous speeches in United States history. He furthers his point of non-violence in this address "Let us



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