Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter From Birmingham Jail, written after a sit-in in Birmingham, Alabama, was a response to southern white church leaders who argued that the issue of racial segregation should be decided in the courts rather than exercised through King’s program of nonviolent social disturbance. King’s letter shows a carefully articulated argument, written appeal to white segregationist readers while at the same time firmly stating that King has no intentions of backing down. The letter also reveals King’s profound intellect as he interacts with with prominent ethicists and theologians of his day. Most importantly, we see an example of the patience and perseverance necessary for King’s program of nonviolent resistance.
- Why does King argue that racial segregation is not simply a matter for the courts to decide?
- In what ways does King treat the church different from the state?
- In what ways can/should we apply this distinction as Christians in the 21st century?
- Has reading Letter From Birmingham Jail changed your opinion of Martin Luther King Jr?