What are King’s reasons for being in Birmingham? How does King answer to the charge of being an outsider? Dr. King is in Birmingham because as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference he is responsible for every southern state organization, including the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Since he has this big role, whenever he is asked or “invited” to other southern states for action, he is destined to be there. King compares himself to prophets who leave their own home towns to spread gospel to other areas. He doesn’t know why he can’t spread his own gospel of freedom outside of his hometown.
What does this mean for individuals who have ignored the issues of Birmingham? What does this mean today for each of us living in the United States? “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” means that everyone who has heard about the issues in Birmingham and has done nothing to help, have done an injustice to themselves also because we are all one whole. Today, this means, that each of us, no matter where we live in the United States, are responsible for one another and are all equal under the constitution.
What are the four basic steps of nonviolent direct action? For each of the steps state the example in Birmingham. Can you think of another historical (local, national, global) example of nonviolent protest which followed these steps? The four basic steps of nonviolent direct action are: collection of the facts, negotiation, self-purification and direct action. In Birmingham, King and his supporters collected facts such as knowing that Birmingham is probably the most segregated city in the US. Then they attempted to negotiate with Birmingham’s merchants to take down racial signs; this wasn’t a very successful negotiation so they had to prepare for direct action with self-purification. This consists of asking themselves, “Are you able to accept blows without retaliation?” and attending workshops for nonviolence. Finally, after a series of postponing action they went into direct action.
Why did King and others decide to delay their actions? King and others decided to delay their actions until they had everyone’s full attention and could have a huge impact on the merchants’ decision.
What does King mean by “constructive nonviolent tension” and how does he define its goal? Constructive nonviolent tension means productive nonviolent pressure towards another person. The goal of this is to put so much mental pressure on the situation to get them to try to negotiate a deal.
Choose an example from United States history which represents the “painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor.” Choose an example which illustrates his point that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.” An example of painful experiences of freedom not freely given is during the American Revolution because to become free from dictatorship of England there was a lot of pain and suffering that went along with it. An example of delayed justice is when the slaves were trying to be free, if they waited any longer to escape, there would probably still be slaves in the US today.
List the injustices and choose three to compare to the Bill of Rights and/or the UDHR. The injustices are: lynching, police torcher, inequality, public humiliation, freedom of speech, and feeling paranoid. Public humiliation, freedom of speech and inequality all relate to the 1st amendment of the Bill of Rights which states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
King describes two types of laws, just and unjust, how does he define each?Can you give other examples in the present of unjust laws you feel a moral obligation to disobey? Would you be willing to accept the consequences? What are the effects of segregation? King describes just laws as “code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself” and “unjust laws as code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself.” An example of an unjust law is the Affordable Care Act because it doesn’t include congress, and the president. I don’t agree with the consequences but I would accept them because it is a just law to obey the law. Segregation changes the soul and damages personality of a person or group of people.
Do you need to obey a law that you did not participate in creating? Most of you are under 18, do you need to live by a law you did not participate in making? Residents in a country, should they obey laws they did not participate in creating? Yes, only because voting is a privilege that everyone that is eligible is asked to do. Yes because if you are under 18 you probably don’t understand law well enough to make one. Yes because they voted for people to create them for them so they technically are making the laws.
Breaking an unjust law lovingly?Could you get to this state? Why does he think this would be an expression of respect for the law? What if his actions do not arouse the conscience of the community? Was it worth it? Breaking an unjust law lovingly means breaking the law without violence and hatred. Yes because I have rights and I want to show that I have rights without violence. This is an expression of respect because you are excepting the consequences without a fight or tussle to show to the community about the injustice. If his actions don’t arouse the community then he understands that he needs a better plan because imprisonment does not oversee justice. It was worth it because if he didn’t try than he would never know the people thoughts.
Why do citizens choose to be silent about a law they may find unjust? What are the social and legal consequences for civil disobedience? Because they are fearful of the consequences such as: jail. Social consequences of civil disobedience consists of pain, exclusion and tension. Legal consequences of civil disobedience is imprisonment.
In the above segment King describes examples of “negative peace”. What does he mean by this? Negative peace for example is, “in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight”. This means a person accepting the unjust laws without doing anything about it even though they feel bad about it.
What does King warn will happen if the Negro community is not allowed to demonstrate through nonviolent actions? Is King threatening them? He says that the Negro community cannot remain “oppressed forever”. He says that the United States Negro is moving with great urgency toward racial justice. He said sense they have many pent up resentments and frustrations and they must release them. So he asks if they be allowed to demonstrate through nonviolent actions. He is not threatening he is merely offering a pattern of history.
Why does King welcome the label extremist? He says that Jesus was an extremist for love and Amos, an extremist for justice.
What is your favorite quote? Why? How can you connect this to your life or issues in your community today? My favorite quote is by John Bunyan when he says, “I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience.” I like this because it overemphasizes the importance of his conscience and how it effects his life. I can connect this to my life by telling myself the same thing but basically saying, “Go with your gut and what it tells you is best to do for yourself and your community.”
Choose one quote for each of the themes of Justice, Transformation, and Reconciliation.Choose a photo to compliment that quote. The photo can be of Birmingham or of a current issue in your community or world today.
Justice: “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.”
Transformation: “This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.”
Reconciliation: “We hold these truths to be self-evident all men are created equal.”