The main topic of the letter is the discussion of the issue of justice and injustice. Dr. King set forth a few examples of fair and unjust laws. The author had a clear definition of the first domain. He wrote: “Any law that uplifts human personality is just” (King 3). In regards to the second concept, he explained that an unjust law is “any law that degrades human personality” (King 3). He was convinced that it was the obligation of any person to fight against injustice. Therefore, a just law was a power that protected people. Meanwhile, an unjust law degraded individuals, and it caused inequality.
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Importantly, Dr. King expanded his discussion through the analysis of segregation. The opponents of the activist stressed that segregation was a legal action. Dr. King refuted their claim and noted that “legal” was not the same as “morally right” (King 5). It should be noted that he believed that everyone should disobey injustice. Dr. King also put forward the idea that people were guaranteed specific rights by the constitution. Therefore, the discussion went beyond the moral code of action (Buford 55). Martin Luther King Jr. had a more nuanced position based on legal, moral, and spiritual perspectives.
In the discussion of just and unjust laws, Dr. King touched upon the issue of equality. He explicated that the exclusion of some cultural groups was discriminatory. He wondered: “Can any law set up in such a state be considered democratically structured?” (King 3). He implied that there were discriminatory voting rights in the country (Velasquez 623). He reinforced his discussion of just and unjust laws and protests against injustice through further examples.
There were instances of civil disobedience to law exhibited by the Christians and Socrates. Thus, through these multiple examples, Dr. King vividly explained the difference between just and unjust laws and proved that refusal to obey was a justified act.
Buford, Maurice A. Bold Followership: A Biblical Cure for Organizational Toxicity. Springer, 2018.
King, Martin Luther, Jr. Letter from Birmingham Jail. 1963. Web.
Velasquez, Manuel. Philosophy: A Text with Readings. 13th ed., Cengage Learning, 2015.