- “I hope you are able to ace the distinction I am trying to point out. In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.”
I have read “A Letter From Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King Jr. more times than most people would ever admit to.
The first time I read it, I was a little girl. I didn’t quite understand it, but I knew the word ‘oppression’ ‘freedom’ and ‘hope’ must have been pretty serious for someone to write that long of a letter.
The next time I read it I was in college and I was studying the great speakers of the world. This time when I read those same words I understood them, but on a different level. My oppression, freedom and hope for my life. What did I need to do to be able to free myself from a bad situation? How did I want my voice to be heard when I finally decided to speak?
I began to studying black history in depth. I started out just trying to figure out why Martin Luther King had wrote that letter. As I dug deeper, I went back further. I rented movies about the little girls that will killed in the church bombing. I cried A LOT.
Through everything that I read, I kept coming back to the letter he wrote from Jail. He sounded so familiar, speaking with conviction of the heart. I was trying to remember where I had read something that moved me as much as his letter did.
I finally remembered what it was.
The Declaration of Independence. Freedom is something that people have been fighting for. Using everything from fists to bombs.
Martin Luther King Jr. taught us to use our words…and to use them right.
Whenever I am angry about something said to me, or in more cases than not, emailed me…I slow down a second and try to write something that I would want in return, even if I didn’t deserve that respect.
Respect. Freedom. Hope.
I wish that for everyone. Even the Anonymous people that write horrible emails and leave nasty comments to me and the people I care about.
I know it’s hard not to stand up for someone that is being attacked verbally in this forum. I know it’s hard for me not to get angry as well…but just slow down for a second and use your words in a way that later when you go back and read what you said in the heat of anger, you’re not going to have any regrets, to be proud for the words for you wrote and the effect that it had on the people around you.
This is one of the million things I have learned from reading MLK Jr.