Civil Disobedience

The first time I read “A Letter from Birmingham Jail- April 16, 1963” it was for my AP English Language class in 11th grade. We had just finished reading¬†Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau and were looking at people inspired by his ideology. The letter focuses on the ethics behind the jailing of the civil rights protesters and encouraging people to continue to fight. King uses a lot of religious comparisons¬†to encourage his followers to continues their actions. He compares himself to the Apostle Paul leaving his home to carry the work of Jesus Christ across Europe (Sernett, 521). When I first read this piece in high school we missed over most of the religious prose throughout the letter so going back and re-reading looking for religious ideas was really interesting to me. I feel as King adding the religious pathos to the letter made it more powerful to the intended audience of this letter but also still appeal to others as well. Even if you were not religious, King makes a compelling argument but it is stronger with the religious tones which shows how King displayed himself too.

Martin Luther King Jr. in his Birmingham Jail cell.


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