The Autobiography of Martin Luther King: Chapters 15-18
After numerous arrests and bails, King and the rest of the SCLC decide to take the rest of the fight to to Birmingham, Alabama. This was a place filled with segregation and segregation supporters. King described Birmingham as a place of severe segregation and the mistreatment of the black community, which made by a large fraction of the city's total population. He concludes his description like this:
“You would be living in the largest city of a police state, presided over a governor-George Wallace- Whose inauguration vow had been a pledge of 'segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!' You would be living, in fact, in the most segregated city in America.” (Pg. 173)
One would think this statement would put fear into the hearts of those civil rights fighters, but they kept on. While preparing for the various challenges that would come with the new protests, King would inspire the volunteers with his words.
“To the ministers I stressed the need for a social gospel to supplement the gospel of individual salvation. I suggested that only a "dry as dust” religion prompts a minister to extol the glories of heaven while ignoring the social conditions that cause men an earthly hell.“ (Pg 179)
"I pleaded for the projections of strong, firm leadership by the Negro minister, pointing out that he is freer, more independent, than any other person in the community.” (Pg. 179)
“I expounded on the weary and worn "outsider” charge, which we have faced in every community where we have gone to to try to help. No Negro, in fact, no American is an outsider when he goes to any community to aide the cause of freedom and justice. No Negro anywhere, regardless of his social standing, his financial status, his prestige and position, is an outsider as long as dignity and decency are denied to the humbled black child in Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia.“ (Pg 179-180)
These words changed the hearts of all that heard them. It turned fear and suspicion into faith and enthusiasm. With this new found energy, another protest was planned and executed. The demonstrators faced a number of new challenges in Birmingham; one of the biggest one was dog attacks and a large number of imprisoned demonstrators.
During his time in jail in Birmingham, King read a letter that was written to him by a group of white ministers asking him to stop the demonstrations, saying that the demonstrations were too extreme and ill timed. While still in prison, King penned a response, which was later titled, "Letter from Birmingham Jail”
In this letter King reveals that he has been disappointed with the actions of the church in his fight for civil rights. He soon says this in his response:
“First, I must confess that over the past few years I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to the positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: 'I agree with you in your goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action.'.“ (Pg. 195)
He later goes on to say: "Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it ca be cure.” (Pg. 195)
There was plenty of things said that could get the mind's wheels spinning and to encourage the Christian to be more mindful of life's daily struggle. I believe as a body of Christian believers we should be willing to look and act as an extremist in order to ensure that God's love is seen by all people.
Anthony K. Giesick
I grew up loving stories and quickly found myself loving writing poetry, stories, songs! Here is a sample of what Beautiful Feet Writings is all about!.