Letter from Birmingham Jail Short Summary 03.28.15

Martin Luther King Jr. wrote this letter from jail in response to eight white clergymen who did not approve of his nonviolent protests against racial inequality. He has been arrested and is writing to them from jail about why he did what he did and why he wants them to care. I thought his words were very persuasive and they ought to have made the church ashamed of itself for rebuking him. He references many historical theologians and biblical characters who would have done just as he has done. His letter is impressive because it is so intelligent and clear. He is calm, though he is in jail for fighting injustice. He is speaking to them in their own language of their own heroes and that ought to wake them up to the reality of where they stand. In his mind, if they are willing to take such a stance against him, they need to check their own consciences because he believes he is fighting on morality and justice’ side and they ought to be as well. He talks about how they call him an extremist and at first he was offended, but then he realized what an honor that is, though that is not how they intended it. First of all, everyone is extreme in one way or another. Secondly, Jesus was an extremist for love and His Father’s glory. Martin Luther King Jr. says in this argument: “the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice?” (p. 602). I think this is a very persuasive message that he writes, in spite of, or especially because of, his position in jail.