An Activity of Martin Luther King in American Civil Rights Movement

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Updated: Mar 14, 2023
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Martin Luther King was a social activist and Baptist minister who played a key role in the American civil rights movement from the mid 1950’s until his assassination in 1968. In 1963 King was arrested and sent to jail in Birmingham, Albama, where him and other activists were protesting. While King was in jail, he wrote a letter in response to a public statement of concern and caution issued by eight white religious leaders. Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” is still relevant to today’s society because racial discrimination is still an issue throughout the nation, people of color are still experiencing police brutality, and those in power throughout the nation have yet to eliminate these problems.

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To begin, King’s letter still resonates with today’s society because racial discrimination is still a prominent issue in our country. There is an alarming amount of people who believe that race is the biggest source of division in America. In his letter king wrote, “Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider.” Although his words are true our society has casted out others due to their race for centuries. In 2012, Wells Fargo, a known bank, paid a large amount in fines for charging a higher interest rates to African American and Latino borrowers. Furthermore, unfair racial stereotypes have not left the hearts of society.

King writes, “I am sure that each of you would want to go beyond the superficial social analyst who looks merely at effects and does not grapple with underlying causes.” For decades, young black men have been branded with stereotypes that affiliate them with violence. People see the actions of African Americans and become so blindsided by stereotypes that they only see the bad. In fact, people today gather to stand and protest racism and racial stereotyping just like those who did during the civil rights movement. King states in his letter, “In your statement you asserted that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence.” Even now protests against racism are frowned upon by the public, for instance peaceful protestors are harassed by the police who clad in riot gear. To continue, “Letter from Birmingham Jail” is still related to our society today because African Americans are still experiencing police brutality.

Police brutality against African Americans is a serious societal problem that affects many states across the nation. “I don’t believe you would have so warmly commended the police force if you had seen it’s angry violent dogs literally biting six unarmed, nonviolent Negroes.”, King wrote this in response to the community commending the policemen for keeping “Peace” during protests. Police brutality was preeminent in the 60’s yet it is still alive today, the number of African Americans killed by police officers has risen greatly in recent years. Unarmed citizens shot down all because they were seen as a danger due to the color of their skin. King continues his response to the community saying, “I don’t think you would so quickly commend the policemen if you would observe their ugly and inhuman treatment of negros…” Disparities in police use of force reflect more widespread racial inequities across the entire American criminal justice system. Black people are much more likely to be arrested for drugs, even though they’re not more likely to use or sell them. And black inmates make up a disproportionate amount of the prison population.(Lopez 4)

Finally, King’s letter is still relevant today because those in power throughout the nation have yet to eliminate these problems. In a study done by the department of education, black children make up 18 percent of the preschool population but represent almost half of all out-of-school suspensions. King writes, “I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens Councilor or the Ku Klux Klan but the white moderate.” This study shows that teachers are more likely to see black misbehaving children as threats to the classroom, this is due to racial bias. Those with the power to make an adjustment so racial bias is cut out of schools are doing nothing.

King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” was relevant when he wrote it and it is still just as relevant today. Racial discrimination, police brutality towards African Americans, and the fact that those with the power to stop these issues have yet to do so is what makes King’s letter relevant to society today. There is much that one can learn from King’s letter; he has shown a light of clarity over what needs to be done to make a permanent change. Society must learn to love everyone equally. How long will society turn a blind eye from racial equality?

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An Activity of Martin Luther King in American Civil Rights Movement. (2021, Jul 01). Retrieved from