Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Letters from Birmingham Jail

When reading Dr. King's speech Letter from Birmingham Jail I was attentive to who he was directing it toward. Ultimately it was directed towards the clergyman but I think it was a message to the people of Alabama as a whole. He writes about how he and other African Americans were "intruding" into the state, or so he was told. I think that this represents his desire to keep equality among people, by disagreeing with this statement he confirmed that they were there to stay. By keeping all of the protests and rallies nonviolent he set the stage for a peaceful movement. This is what really meant the most to me. I couldn't understand why they did this at first, then it dawned upon me. The sit-ins were a form of peaceful protest and literally showed our nation that they were here to stay, and that no matter how aggressive and violent the people became, King and his followers would not stoop to their level. Though throughout history equal rights were fought over, it seems King didn't even want to take action but he knew he had no choice. "It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city's white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative." I find this to be of great importance because there were a lot of alternatives they could have taken. They could've been just as violent as the white folk, they could have retaliated, they could firebomb the homes of innocent people, they could've done so much. But there was no alternative for keeping it peaceful, and by doing that I believe he established great power in the community.

John Lewis was an influential SNCC leader and a powerful force in the civil rights movement. Lewis was born on February 21, 1940 in Troy, Alabama. He grew up in poverty but overcame this by entering politics and gaining an education. In 1963 he became the chairman of SNCC and though young, he was widely respected for this actions. He had been arrested 24 times as a result of his activism. He took part in the Freedom Rides that traveled through the south at age 21.

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