45th Anniversary of Dr. Kings Letter from a Birmingham Jail

So today is the 45th anniversary of the famous letter Dr. King wrote from a Birmingham jail in 1963. We were supposed to read it for my US History class and I learned a lot from it. By reading this letter, I really found out why Dr. King was so adamant on bringing about change in the south and across the United States. Of course, everyone knows that this is during the height of the Civil Rights Movement and Dr. King was determined to garner Civil Rights for everyone. In the letter, he explains that his desire to cause social tension is necessary so "that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood".

I mean just those words right there are extremely powerful and it shows that Dr. King was willing to cause people (mainly white moderates who were sympathetic towards the black struggle for enfranchisement) to feel uncomfortable in order to truly
REALIZE how the way blacks were being treated were unjust and unfair. Dr. King also criticizes those who suggest he "wait" to start non-violent protest in order to keep the peace. In response, he says"

"Perhaps it is easy for those who have
never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; 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 eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness"--then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. "

It was those very words that made
inspired me and angered me all at the same time. They are inspiring, because he made a very valid point about the treatment his fellow blacks endure simply because of the COLOR of their skin. I mean to treat someone so badly just because they are different than you is one of the most terrible things you could do to a person. And the part that really just PISSES me off is that many blacks now DO NOT VOTE!!!!! I do not understand this at all. I do not understand how the children and the children's children of the people that fought so long and hard during the Civil Rights movement will not show a little respect and go to the polls. I do not understand why some people can not take an hour or two out of their day like TWICE a year to voice their opinions. When I turned 18, I was so excited to register and could not wait to vote in the presidential primaries. But many of my peers could not give two shits about it and it is probably one of the most infuriating experiences, especially when I see young black people blowing off their opportunity to vote. I just want to yell at them and to make them realize that 40 years ago, college students that are just like us were putting their LIVES on the line so that the segregation and disenfranchisement laws would be banned. We take so much for GRANTED in our society and it is so saddening. We are so interested in what's on MTV, the latest sneakers, and other materialistic crap like that. We don't seem to realize the big picture or how much things have been changed, so that younger generations can live equally and without fear of being persecuted because of physical appearances. I cannot imagine someone telling me that I could not go to my university because I was a black woman; I cannot imagine someone telling me that I had to enter in the back door of a store because I was black. My generation has never (or rarely) had to endure such blatant racism because our parents and grandparents fought for our equal rights. They turned Dr. King's dream into a reality. When he said that "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character" We do not have to endure that kind of treatment, yet we cannot take the time to vote.

I wish people would realize how disrespectful this really is to the hundreds maybe even thousands that fought and even died for our Civil Rights.

This entry was posted on 4.16.2008 and is filed under ,,,. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.