Reaction/Summary of “Letter from Birmingham Jail”

My post is going to be a reaction and a summary of some sort.  When I read this handout, I felt a lot of emotion go through my mind.  I like how Martin Luther Kind Jr. does not mention a single thing about race in the beginning of the letter.  This fact makes the first few paragraphs very interesting and, I guess, suspenseful in a sense, as to what the letter is mainly referring to.  This keeps the reader wanting to continue to find out what he is trying to make a point about.  It did for me.  After reading the whole letter,  I was able to confirm my assumption in that it is about racism and segregation in the South.  Three or four paragraphs into the letter MLK Jr. says something very interesting…”Anyone who lives in the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere in this country”.  He says we cannot live with this idea.  To me he is right.  In this country I do not believe that we will ever really reach equality between everybody, so why say that we live by this. That is a lie.  Sometimes people of higher wisdom, or maybe not, have to point out the obvious instead of letting everyone believe the high hopes that others set or believe in.  Martin Luther King Jr. may have had high hopes for colored people, and he even may have believed that they might one day happen, but he also realized reality and understood the things that may happen.  When I mentioned that I felt a lot of emotion from reading this letter, I was talking about a specific example that he used.  “When you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her little eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see the depressing cloudsof inferiority begin to form in her mental sky, and see her begin to distort her little personality by unconsciously developing a bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son asking in agonizing pathos; “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”  This to me is one of the most upsetting, gut wrenching feelings that I have felt while reading anything.  These things should never happen and I have never witnessed them because I did not live in this time, so I know I am only feeling a small portion of the emotion that parents who actually had to do this felt.  And I know their emotions were significantly stronger than anyone in this time period, who is not a minority, could ever imagine.  Although MLK Jr. was very hurt and effected by the way life was in this time, he still stood strong and believed in his morals.  He believed in “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you”.  He had good morals and good, strong beliefs that got him far in life and positively effected a lot of people.  These beliefs and morals really showed through in this letter and put out a strong emotions, vibes, and lessons to anyone who reads it, hopefully.

-Natalie Hauser

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About academicwritingudm

Associate Professor of English, Univ. of Detroit Mercy
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