Research on Martin Luther King, Jr. And “The Letter from the Birmingham Jail”
To me, Martin Luther King, Jr. is not an unfamiliar name. His famous speech “I’ve a dream” is partly selected as our English text in China. Although I know he is well known for the strong and affective words, “Letter from Birmingham Jail” still gave me a very deep impression. It is perfectly organized in a logical and thoughtful arrangement. On the other hand, the words are strong and full of real, impressive emotion.
To fully understand this letter, having a basic background of Martin Luther King and the social environment at that time is necessary. King was born into a rich middle-class family of Atlanta in the year 1929. His father and grandfather were both famous black ministers. King received a nice education, and graduated from Boston University as a Doctor of Ethnology. In the year 1955, King led the blacks of Montgomery, Alabama, in a boycott against the buses, which treated black people unequally as the white people. The buses were desegregated in 1965. In the following years, King devoted himself to the fight for equal civil rights, and won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. In 1968, King was assassinated. “Letter from Birmingham Jail” was written in 1963. It was a “response to a published statement by eight fellow clergymen from Alabama”
(King 403) who thought King’s non-violence resistance was “unwise and untimely”(King, Martin Luther. “Letter from Birmingham Jail”. Casts of Thought: Writing In And Against Tradition. Eds. George Otte and Linda J. Palumbo New York: Macmillan1991, 403). At that time, the civil rights movement in the U.S. faced several problems and difficulties, and was slowing down. “Letter from Birmingham Jail” lit the whole movement up, and became a turning point.
After knowing the basic background, let u...