Martin Luther Jnr Letter from Birmingham jail

 

Title: Martin Luther Jnr Letter from Birmingham jail

Author: Martin Luther King Jnr.

Published by: Christian Century Magazine

Publication year: 1963

 

 

Rev Martin Luther King received a letter from some group of local clergymen who urged him in a letter mailed to him in his jail there in Birmingham that he stop the street protests against racial discrimination. Rev Martin Luther King reacts in what I have likened to apostle Paul’s wholehearted lengthened epistle to the churches.

Martin Luther King Jnr has risen up to that peak in his (would I say) Apostolic calling and activism in that, he was getting lots of letter from people opposing his activism move which was in a bid to stop racial segregation in America. In accordance with an invite from a Christian NGO which has charged itself with the sole responsibility of standing up for the human right of black Americans. King argues that he wouldn’t protest all by his intention alone but by the support of big names and notable American clergymen who sees the reason why the human right of minority Black Americans should be fought for and without violence. In Malcolm X’s autobiography, Malcolm measures King’s anti-segregation campaign as not fit to tackle the persisting oppressive rules simply because Martin Luther King Jnr was seemingly becoming too lenient with those he (Malcolm) tags the devil. On an account in his autobiography, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Malcolm did states the reasons why black Christians shouldn’t be believed. He feels they have adopted the white man’s religion and therefore had been brain- washed into being at the mercy of their rules which wasn’t so after examining crucially the role Martin Luther King played in the peaceful agitation for the right of Negroes in America.

Martin Luther King Jnr didn’t just want to take part in what has been registered in the heart of protesters globally as the best peaceful protest ever, but comes to tie with Apostle Paul’s call for aid, such that was given to the churches (Paragraph 2). Just like the activist plight of Anne Moody in Coming of age in Mississippi and Richard Wright’s in black boy, Martin Luther King Jnr also feels the urgency to respond to the emotional brutality of his ‘brothers’ in America and especially in Birmingham where obnoxious rules on blacks were hot should be immediate.boy, Martin Luther King Jnr also feels the urgency to respond to the emotional brutality of his ‘brothers’ in America and especially in Birmingham where obnoxious rules on blacks were hot should be immediate.

Rev Martin Luther King Jnr clearly expresses the objective of their peaceful agitation establishing what is globally accepted as elements of a peaceful agitation. We were not unmindful of the difficulties involved… Page 4, first line. Rev king Jnr and his several affiliates wouldn’t just dash into a peaceful protest without proper orientation and disorientation of some long standing ideologies of protest. A non-violent tension was the tool Rev King makes do with after his several preaching against violent tension. King’s protest was tagged untimely, but my question following after the order of King’s is; Should hands be folded while lives deteriorate without repair. But even at that, King later have what I think is the best response of all time after he tells the Clergymen in his letter: We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor: it must be demanded by the oppressed. This fact has been proven severally by notable activist and most especially authors of some predemocracy books. Richard Wright in his autobiography states how he had to protest with cold shrills when he was little and with this, mama just lets go of him while others pay dearly for their misdeed. What if he (Martin Luther King Jnr) kept shut?

Rev Martin Luther King writes with the pain of segregation seriously hurting him. He speaks here on [page 6] with an emotional feel to drive his point home. The other black clergymen or clergymen who wrote him might probably not be affected by the obnoxious law definitely, had they been affected they wouldn’t have tarried the day of their freedom. There is actually no better time to correct any ill situation. That time you noticed that unpleasant situation is just about the best. Regarding 1Pet 5:10 The actions of the Clergymen is quite notable, an act of disappointment to Martin Luther King Jnr and even to the body of Christ with whom King was peacefully agitating for.

Luther King Jnr agitation and  Elijah Muhammed or Malcolm X’s movement are two opposite thing. Theirs was never in any way supporting peaceful protest as  Malcolm X notes in his autobiography of how the nation of Islam trains Muslim brothers karate for defence. Malcolm X opposes the white segregation laws and even referring to the white man as the devil who defied the black man of his human right. Fighting the course of the black man’s human right now becomes the struggle of two entity where one seems to be unfair with its approach to the trending issue of prejudice.

From Martin Luther King Jnr’s approach, we have seen a perfect example of Christians being the light and the salt of the world as the scriptures quoted in the gospel of Mathew 5:12-16. How best will he be the light if he fails to shine it from his residence in Atlanta all to the south of Birmingham and beyond the states in America where racial prejudice was at its peak.

Martin Luther King Jnr’s letter here reads the mind of a patriot who won’t want his countrymen to fall apart even while his struggle was to ensure equality of right with more emphasis on the minority blacks who were the subject of prejudice. The story of great men is enshrined in the book they write. This is just a letter from one of America’s finest activist and clergyman who fought till he became lifeless with his famous ‘I have a dream’ captivating speech.

Black Boy by Richard Wright

 

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Title:  Black Boy

Author: Richard Wright

Published by: Longman

Publication year: 1970

 

It would have been so good if Anne Moody waited for Richard before she got her book published two years before Richard published this title of his. Well, just a joke by the way. But then, I’ve only come to notice the close similarities between Richard’s Black Boy and Anne Moody’s Coming of Age in Mississippi.

The Black Boy sets in the black populated city of Mississippi where killing and lynching of Black folks was just the order of the day. The beautiful thing about this autobiographical account of Richard Wright’s life is the fact that, it holds close similarities with Anne Moody’s ‘Coming of age in Mississippi’. It is so much of an American story with imagery mostly related to America, (partly Africa, where the theme of suffering might just be concerned) Americans and might be so hard for one outside the United States to come to its full understanding.

In treating this book, lots of comparisons will be done relating Black boy by Richard Wright with Coming of age in Mississippi by Anne Moody. The initial chapters of this book preface on a ground of horror, pain, future uncertainty and feelings of sufferings where a black boy was made to know hardship at a time when he could hardly differentiate from his right to his left. The turns and consistent emotional torture meted on the black folks wherein he lives alongside abuse by the white bosses sets in young Richard a sense of coercion (even on real-life events and his thought) showing superiority to whites only, while the blacks remain at their (whites) mercy. The seed of coercion planted in Richard by several racial prejudicial happenings in his environment also becomes part of Richard. I ever wonder in the course of this autobiographical account, how a young teenage boy can put up courage and attempt stabbing or threatening an adult with knives.

Oppression and hostility on the black minority seem to be the order of the day thereby leading little Richard to learn to curse before he could read. Just as Anne Moody also had her own account, one can quite agree that severe hardship alongside ill-treatment was predominantly constant amongst the black folks in the early American days so much that the whites were treated with much reverence, while words from the black folks were meticulously selected when addressing them and even their young ones. The effect of several cases of ill-treatment on blacks soon becomes part of Richard’s subconscious when he naively thought; P.19 the white folks have got the right to beat Black kids, thus thinking that the right black parents have is only the parental.

The way children or youngsters will go arguably is dependent on the availability of their parent to foster learning and several teachings per time. In Richard’s case where his mother who ineffectively plays the role of the father became ill, Richard just had to live his life following his special ‘design’. Of course, you all will agree, these designs were never pleasant at all.

Racial prejudice which seems to be the main theme of this book stood gallantly still as far as the book is concerned. It was so much that Richard’s mum was stretched out of the hospital in a pretence to be lifeless and then to an ambulance. Reason being that, there wasn’t any hospital facility for the coloured people. Availability of better jobs, social amenities was also racially controlled such that the blacks were restricted from getting certain jobs. It even got so bad that blacks were not allowed to go borrow books. And at this point, I had a picture of how crazy racial discrimination could be. In her own write-up, Anne Moody gives insights on her personal experiences as well. In a portion of the book, she recounts how Negro students nursed fear on realising that there were a lot of white kids in some colleges they were going.

Richard alongside Anne Moody delves into exploring an autobiography right from their formative years up till when they both became an adult, thus narrating from a time when the readers could be cleverly carried along. The duo authors were brought to limelight due to their prolonged curiosity to know why the black minorities were deprived in partaking of the American dream. These might have just been the reason why Richard starts reading about several authors he came across in some of his reading times, authors who also had some of their articles opposing the Jim Crow’s laws. Anne also advocates for the right of the black folks by joining the NAACP movement which later translates into the Woolworth’s sit-in demonstration (that which gave her much popularity).

Even though Richard Wright was more focused on voicing out his opinion (which he never did at the end of the book) on the Jim Crow’s obnoxious rules via his literary skills, but then Anne took to the streets and challenged the ‘challengeable’ and becoming an orator and a strong activist who became part of a strong movement (alongside the likes of Medgar, Martin Luther King Jnr. and others) for the proclamation of the black’s right. Richard can be seen as the more curious type compared with Anne. He wants to know more, ask more, read more and see more of happenings which were not to the merit of the black folks.

After a vivid look into their personality, one can successfully determine the temperament of both authors. Of course, they’ve both got an element of being choleric. They are both given to asking questions and wanting to correct the obnoxious laws which restrict black’s right and was never in favour of the Black-Americans. Richard most especially did this until he was told to mind his business if he really wants to live and be successful. (Same was said to Anne moody, then she took a break from Canton to New Orleans).

Richard Wright’s black Boy is an  autobiographical account that projects the dealings of the white majority with the black minority in a country where equal rights were withheld, thus leading to a divided society pioneered by intentional hate for the poor black folks. It is yet another good book that tells the difference between being courageous to the rise of our countrymen and that which opens the eyes of the entire public to our historical heritage.

Coming of Age in Mississippi

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Book title: Coming of Age in Mississippi

Author’s name: Anne Moody

Published by: Laurel, Dell Publishing

Publication year: 1968

The issue of black or better still, negro killing and deprivation will still hold ground in the history of America as one thing the government will forever endeavour to get fixed someday. The killing of Mathew Ajibade, Michael Brown, Troy Robinson, Felix Kumi, Nathaniel Pickett and so on. One will tend to ask this simple question and I believe that it would have crossed the heart of so many.

What have these young black folks really done to deserve these killings?

Anne Moody sets in the Negro populated city of Mississippi where she started a life of hers as a poor Negro kid. At Mississippi news heard has been no far from unpleasant ones, news ranging from Negro lynching, killing and so on. She grew up living and working to help her survive after her parents called it a day maritally. The order of the day afterwards has always been to help white folks do some chores, get paid so as to continue her education which seems of paramount importance to her. No vacation has ever occurred without her thinking of a job to sustain her for the rest of the school sessions. Anne soon began getting used to her white bosses, but trouble soon sets in after Negro kids were soon seen as inferior to their white counterparts. Anne who has never been happy about the several ongoings and killings of Negroes got home most times and would ask her poor mother what some certain terms or at times who some folks were. Mrs. moody would really be terrified about such insinuations, and in most responses of hers, she’d told Anne to let the sleeping dog lie and instead face what she went to do in these white folk’s place. From these responses, Anne sensed mother and several other Negro folks were really terrified to talk about this persisting issue of racial prejudice at the detriment of the Negroes.

After Anne came in contact with Mrs Burke, another white boss of hers, she began to hate white folks. She got more angry after the killing of Emmett Till, this time, of course, was when activism sprouted forth from her even when her teacher, Mrs Rice warned her to take off her mind from it. Mrs Burke helped fuel up the flaring fire of hatred Anne had nursed for the white folks, and then she quitted her work with her.

Racial discrimination towards the Negroes took a high toll after the incidence of molestation and killing became prevalent in Centerville and neighbouring black communities. Anne felt really bad about this and most especially with the fact that Mr Burke has been having a secret meeting relating to blacks right. Emmett Till and Taplin killing were another shockers for her, thus she set out to stay with Uncle Ed so as to be free of the persisting troubles which Negroes faced at Centerville.

Troubles still lingered in the city of Centerville on Anne’s return from Baton Rogue after she’d earned sixty-five dollars. Benty and Mrs Rosetta had been ejected out of town. Mama who always hated talking about Negro related issues of maltreatment walked away without giving an answer to Anne after she enquired about them.

After Anne had left Mrs Burke’s place due to all her naggings and suspicious moves, and even the false allegation levelled against junior, she then ended up working for another friend of Mrs Burke who seemed to be amongst the member of the guild. Anne’s affection for Wendy seems no longer controllable in that, she almost fell off the Ladder at Mrs Hunt’s shop when she was up to cleaning the display window. Mrs Hunt’s unhealthy interference when she saw Wendy and Anne talking got Anne uncomfortable and then she made up her mind on the spot that she wouldn’t be staying there long.

To get some few dollars wasn’t as easy as Anne and her sister thought after she (Anne) had left Centerville this time again but for New Orleans. Working in the chicken factory drained out life, and sapped off energy from them. They had to spend hours cleaning up chickens. The stress tolled upon Anne that she vowed never to return back there. But she was soon up the next day when sis called her up for work. The thought of what will sum up after the month end then let her go with her. Anne vowed never to eat chicken for years after working in the chicken factory, not even the boxed one.

Having the almost rare privilege to work in New Orleans seems to be one big deal for Anne. Almost when she thought there wasn’t any job again, an offer showed up in a Restaurant she never thought of initially. Her story here seems sad due to the fact that she had to work in the same workplace with a Granny. Normally, some culture will have it that when a woman had seen her first generation, she ought to be relieved of any stressful work but here is a grandma washing dishes not minding anyone around her. Lola and the likes seem to almost discourage Anne from working at the restaurant but after Mama told her about them, she soon forsook whatever they might be saying and focused more on her business.

After Lola’s advice on Anne’s look, she seems to be attracting more attention than she ever thought of in recent time. Some white men, her stepfather and most especially Coach Nick seem to be really tripping for this cool Negro girl that they can’t stop thinking about. The issues of Negro killing in Centerville resurrect again, and now Samuel O’ Quinn had been murdered. Anne felt terrified and was almost staging a kind of war inside of her.  Raymond got in her way with constant nagging and cursing that Anne wouldn’t want to hear. She soon vacated Centerville when it was unbearable and then stayed at Woodville with her father who seem though to have been expecting her. Emma, Anne’s stepmom did the little she can to accommodate her stepdaughter. But what seems wrong when all ought to be going on well.

Wilbert shot Emma which she (Emma) did receive an unplanned error on Wilbert. Anne graduated gallantly with other colleagues of hers and while her graduating class marched out, there she was with Mama. She finally united again with her mother who had long to see her.

Anne won a scholarship to Natchez, a Baptists college. Natchez was prison-like to Anne who had travelled all alone to far places. Other girls who had not experience such freedom were much crazier about it, no wonder she finds it hard getting along with their class.

Been able to make the entire college student peacefully boycott from the college’s restaurant due to inappropriate meal preparation was one trait of peaceful protesting. Of course activism too. Anne seems to have the trait of activism which seems to be the giant in her waiting for the right time for expression. She was never timid to say her mind even while she was at Centerville and would never allow anyone take her for a ride. Anne seems to show an interest in joining the dreaded NAACP she thought killed Samuel O’ Quinne after she asked a friend the kind of meeting she attends.

Anne who has never been glad about the ill treatment of blacks fatally joined the NAACP movement and was soon at the forefront of leading a certain demonstration alongside Rose in a Train station who did go but were advised by a Negro driver who warned that they shouldn’t do such thing without their organisation’s permission. After the death of Medgar, activism activities seem to have been slowed down a little bit, but Anne and some other college student still gather to protest in small groups. The white majority may be really mad at the Negro protest but somewhat still had a pitying look on these college students’ pressing request. Resolutions were even extended to churches after the death of Medgar, thus forbidding any of NAACP gathering or their likes. She now seems unstoppable towards her commitment to the liberation of the Negroes in the states of America. Mrs Moody, her mother sent forth another letter, this time around begging her to quit the NAACP movement based on various news they got at home in Centerville. She read the letter, felt sorry for mama but was in no way ready to take mama’s plea that she quit her activities with the group. Several warnings and attacks on Negroes went on and on but none of the new set of adults was also ready to quit.

After Anne saw herself on Klan’s blacklist, coupled with mama’s frequent letter, she finally decided to leave the movement for a while. She left Canton in Mississippi and arrived in New Orleans where she reunited with her sister mum and junior, his younger brother who also later told her one night, of the murder of Emma’s brother. This again shook Anne that she was advised to get a medical attention. Anne really missed her friends over there at Canton that she dreamt about them. She finally went back to Canton unknowingly to her, it was exactly a year they had the Woolworth’s Sit-in demonstration. The Mississippi project had really improved and more turnouts were recorded over six months Anne was away.

After browsing through a summary of Anne’s life as a youngster and activist who was one of those who led the movement to the emancipation of blacks in the American states, let’s consider the thematic approach as discussed in this book.

Poverty

Living in a state of abject poverty was the first theme expressed in this book. When small dirty accommodation allotted to a family for survival seem the greatest thing they can have to survive for one to survive but most negroes will live there since there wasn’t alternative (see paragraph one of chapter one ). Since there was still a strong opposition to certain right Negroes ought to enjoy, even their wages became small hereby leading to inability to meet their daily family needs including feeding. Anne cited an example of a poverty-stricken life when she said, (paraphrased) ‘often when Mama didn’t have money for food, Grandfather Moody gave her some’. The level of poverty grew so high that Beans was the only meal the family had, beans without meat.

Racial Prejudice

The vivid disparity between the white and blacks was just too wide. Negroes were seen as inferior and this as well affected their subconscious when most of them were confronted with some racial issues. This theme was the major rise of the activism in Anne and of course set into action when she mimicked the doctor that once worked on Grandma by Playing a game called ‘The doctor’ hereby checking Katie, Bill, Sandra and Paul’s private. The vexation to avenge the right of the Negroes had grown in her after she had witnessed several assaults on Negro kids and the older ones with an emphasis more on the case she has with her little white friends when she met with them at a Cinema. The fact that racial imbalances were in place set fear in the heart of high school negro student going to  college where there were lots of white kids lived. And even with the Moody’s, they also had a share of the inferiority complex when mother told Anne never to see herself in the same class with the white folks. Mrs Moody had told Anne to do her job with the white folks and leave them with their problems. One would have wonder why a person will work in a place and not relate a little with the owners overseeing business activities there. This, of course, another clear indicator that the fear of the white folks didn’t just remain at its physical state but has transcended into their thought hereby taking charge of their subconscious.

Child Labour

This theme strongly buttressed the theme of poverty aforementioned. The rate of poverty amongst the Negro families led to underage labour. Young negro kids who haven’t attain the labour age (18+) gave their self to labour due to the fact that they need to meet the need of themselves (pay their tuition, buy cloths) and likewise that of their immediate family. In the course of doing this, so many atrocities came their way such as rape, verbal abuse, murder etc. Anne as a person also lied about her age when she cannot help it.

Activism

Activism took one-third of this book since that was the end result of some painful years of oppression on the Negroes. Anne in this book led movements that help curb Negro slavery in certain states in America. She didn’t just think of activism but the great oppression of the Negroes pushed her into it. One may think she is the saviour for her Centreville folks, but they didn’t see her that way. They rather thought Anne was putting them more into some form of danger by exposing herself to radical activism. Anne’s activism prowess set into action when she got admitted to Natchez and there she had the best opportunity to vent her spleen on the white obnoxious rulings on the Negroes through NAACP movement. The Woolworth’s Sit-in demonstration was one great demonstration that announced Anne and also the demonstration that announced Anne. Anne and some other activist later became diehard to the movement’s objective in that, they were never ready to give up. Mrs Moody sent forth several letters, telling of her displeasure that Anne was part of the movement, she’d begged her several time to quit the NAACP movement based on various news they got at home in Centerville. Anne read the letter, felt sorry for mama but was in no way ready to take mama’s plea that she quit her activities with the group. Several warnings and attacks on Negroes went on and on but none of these adults (those involved in the activism) was ready to quit.