Current society of America dates back to past development experiences. The American nationalities comprise of distinct tribes, states and ethnic groups who survived from diverse political, cultural and social backgrounds. New societies, culture and people mainly originate from migration in search for new opportunities and lives. American society in the United States traces back their origin to more than one migration experiences. Such emigrational experiences labeled America as nation of immigrations.
Change is inevitable, development experiences have been influenced by changes in the society where immigrants sought for new destinations. Change occurred due to impact of immigrant culture to the natives. The change results from pursuit of freedom and acceptance in the American society. The article seeks to evaluate the development experiences in the American Society by discussing thinker Jr. Martin Luther King commentary on “Letter from Birmingham Jail” The paper presents a new interpretation of American history by focusing on Jr.
Martin Luther King, political thought as a commentary on principles and problems of free government. In addition, some respects on modification of the principles as advanced in the declaration of independence and embodied in the constitution are discussed in this paper. The pursuit of Negro towards freedom and justice is discussed based on Jr. Martin Luther King answers to criticisms of his activities. Martin Luther King, Jr. , “Letter from Birmingham Jail” While Jr. Martin Luther King was confined in the Birmingham city jail, he came across statement calling his activities “unwise and untimely.
” He sought to answer criticisms of his work and ideas since the men who criticized him were of genuine good will with sincere criticisms. He served as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization that was established in every southern state with Atlanta, Georgia being headquarter. The organization had several affiliates who shared staff, educational and financial resources. The affiliates in Birmingham called the organization to engage in a nonviolent direct action program if such sharing deemed necessary. These lead to Jr. Martin Luther King confined in Birmingham city jail because of injustices.
The rise of injustices compelled Jr. Luther to fight for freedom beyond his home town by responding to the Macedonian call for aid. He was aware of the interrelationship of all communities and states, this lead to his concern about the injustices in Birmingham which threatened justice all over the state (Luther 1). The Negroes faced multifaceted problems from political, social and economic injustices. They faced segregation, racial discrimination, brutality, bloodshed and poverty. Such problems gave rise to freedom fighters in pursuit to achieve social freedom and justices.
The Negro leaders were caught in an unavoidable network of mutuality which was tied to a single element of destiny. Importantly, what affects one directly affects all indirectly. He explored the demonstrations which took place in Birmingham, the city’s power structure of white left the Negro community with no alternative but to use demonstration to raise the issues which they faced. The nonviolent campaign comprised four basic steps namely: collection of the facts to determine existence of injustices, negotiation, self purification and direct action. All these steps were followed by black in Birmingham with aim of gaining justice.
Racial injustices were dominant in the community; Birmingham was tremendously segregated city in the United States with brutal experiences. They experienced unjust treatment in the courts, high proportion of unsolved bombings of their homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other cities. The Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the white leaders of the city who consistently refused to engage in negotiation and understanding (Luther 1). After several failures of negotiations, Negro leaders got opportunity to talk with leaders of Birmingham’s economic community.
Certain promises were made during negotiation, which saw merchants removed stores which were racialism sign. Such promises led to suspension of demonstration by Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and other leaders of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Negroes become victims of broken promises where injustices were briefly removed, returned and others remained. Shadow of disappointment remained upon the Negro leadership who sought for direct action with aim of presenting their cases to local and national community. Self purification was used, nonviolent workshops were introduced.
Direct action was scheduled for the Easter season since it was main shopping period of the year. The by-product of direct action was a strong economic-withdrawal which brought pressure on merchants for a change to occur. Direct action plan was postponed until mayoral election was over and later till the run off with aim of demonstrations not to cloud the issue at hand. The defeat of Commissioner of Public Safety, Eugene “Bull” Connor resulted to more postponement of direct actions. The call of negotiation was indeed a purpose of direct action.
Nonviolent direct action was used to create crisis and foster tension because community consistently refused to negotiate. The force was used to confront and dramatized the issue which could no longer be ignored. Luther is strongly opposed to violent tension, but he asserts that there is a constructive nonviolent tension which is effective for growth. It was very necessary to create a tension in the mind of individuals to enable them rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the free realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal.
This suggests that the kind of tension is created in society to help individuals rise from dark depths of prejudice and racism to the greater heights of understanding and sense of belonging. The purpose of direct action was to create the crisis situation which opened door for negotiation (Luther 2). Despite Mr. Boutwell being a gentleman than Mr. Connor, they are both segregationists, who were interested in maintenance of status. One is forced to understand the Negro leadership legitimate and unavoidable impatience of breaking laws. Luther urged people to obey Supreme Court’s decision of 1954 which outlawed segregation in the public schools.
However, one can ask why to break some laws while obeying others? Luther suggested that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. One has a legal and moral responsibility to obey just laws and to disobey unjust law. Just law is a man made code that mutually respects the moral law and God natural law while an unjust law is a coded unharmonious moral rule. Just law uplifts personality while unjust law degrades personality. Segregation is unjust since it distorts the soul and damages the personality. Segregator feels superior while the segregated are viewed as inferiors.
Segregation is politically, economically, sociologically and morally wrong and sinful. Throughout the nation of Alabama, all sorts of segregation were used not to vote despite being majority in the population. Another form of segregation was that citizens were denied a privilege to have peaceful assembly and protest. Luther asserts that one who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly and willingly to accept the penalty (Luther 4). From Luther’s point of view, Negro’s great stumbling block towards achievement of freedom is not white citizens but the white moderates.
The white moderates are highly devoted to order rather than to justice. They preferred a negative peace with absence of tension to a positive peace with presence of justice. In addition, they agreed on Negro’s pursuit for justice and freedom but not methods of direct action. They blocked social progress and revolution. Federal courts affirms that it is very wrong to advocate an individual to cease from efforts that enable one to gain basic constitutional rights because the pursuit may precipitate violence. Society must be involved in protecting the robbed and punishing the robber.
It was hoped that the white moderates would reject the myth of timing concern in relation to struggle for freedom (Luther 5). It is apparent that Luther stood in middle of two opposing forces in the Negro community. One force was complacency, made up oppressed and drained Negroes who have adjusted to segregation. The other force comprised few middle-class Negroes who had academic and economic security. The forces were characterized by bitterness and hatred. Despite such forces, the Negro church way of nonviolence became an integral part of the struggle for freedom.
The yearning for freedom eventually manifested itself among American Negroes which gave birth to freedom. With the conjunction of Africans, Asian, South Americans and the Caribbean, the United States Negro moved to great urgency towards racial justice (Luther 6). However, some of white individuals from South grasped the meaning of social revolution and they committed themselves towards it. Despite their low quantity, their high quality outweighed quantity. Some such as Ralph McGill, Lillian Smith, Harry Golden, James McBride Dabbs and Ann Braden have languished in jails for their pursuit of Negro social freedom (Luther 7).
Conclusion From the evidence presented in the paper, it is concluded that developments of American experiences dates back to pursuit of political, social and economic freedom. Despite confinement of Jr. Martin Luther King in Birmingham jail, he answered all criticisms of his activities. Injustices such as segregation, brutality and racism compelled Luther to fight for freedom. Nonviolence demonstration which comprised of negotiation, self purification and direct action were used to raise issues of injustices.
Direct action involved tension which helped society to wake up from racism to great heights of brotherhood. Laws are divided into two, just law which lifts up personality and unjust law which degrades personality. were segregated not to vote and privilege of peaceful assembly and protests were denied. The stumbling block of Negroes achievement of freedom was influenced by white moderates. Luther eventually won through the help of Negro church for struggle despite standing in the middle of Negro community opposition forces. Some whit individuals embraced social revolution though they languished in jails.
Civil rights are not gained without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. It is known that through painful experience that freedom is not voluntarily given by the oppressor but it must be demanded by oppressed as the statement “Justice too long delayed is justice denied.” suggests. Time is neutral variable which can either be used destructively or constructively.