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.


The Autobiography of Malcolm X


Book title: The autobiography of Malcolm X

Author:   Alex Haley and Malcolm X

Published by: Ballantine Books

Publication year: 1964


I heard people speak of someone by the name Malcolm X. I’ve heard of someone who never schooled beyond the eighth grade but drilled on the street of Harlem and also of someone who attended the University of Charlestown Prison. I finally was privileged to meet him after several years of anticipation, yes on the pages of this good read.

On the account of this autobiographical narrative, Malcolm’s psychological approach to getting one’s request granted in life is sped up through making some noise. I would open my mouth and let the whole world know about it… I learned early that crying out in protest could accomplish things [pg8]. And this he learnt during his childhood. This then affirms the African proverb which says, (paraphrased) what will become of a man can easily be identified during his formative years. The negroes in the early 50s have something in common. Most were poor, talented, maltreated, and hostile (even towards each other) and finds solace in religion. Even while Malcolm was been taken to live with the Gohannas, his weak mother still remembers to inform the state man that Malcolm shouldn’t be fed with pig [pg19].

The analysis of any story with a strong theme of Afro-American activism and in this case, black Americans in a black populated city like Harlem wouldn’t be complete without stating the poor mindset most black Americans had nurtured since time immemorial. You do odd jobs, get rich through tips, gamble and when you had your hit, you’ve got to buy your friends drinks and steaks, buy a Cadillac and in a brief squander those returns on gambling without any thought of investment. Most of the time it happens as a result of wanting to show off one’s spending habit, in a quest to meet up with the status quo. Malcolm did well by tackling this demeaning mindset when he joined the Nation of Islam.


How ridiculous I was! Stupid enough to stand… (Pg 54)

Malcolm X is the man with a ‘glass’ heart. His version of the Negro suffering was told in this biographical account of his without ‘padding’ things up. Even when he seems to be betraying the race to which he belongs, he says it in clearer terms.  While Reginald plots out Malcolm’s path into becoming a Muslim, his presumptions about the white folks will just be unrealistic as anything. Speaking about the anti-white policy and loss of identity syndrome which works hand in hand with the white’s hatred for the negroes, one might have just thought that is his best move towards working out the conversion of his anti-Christian brother. Malcolm wouldn’t listen to anyone order than Reginald, but even at that, he wouldn’t swallow all he’s saying hook line and sinker. He still remembers some good white buddies. Several letters Malcolm got while he was in the prison hastened him to accept the Islamic religion. The fact that Elijah Muhammad in a way blast opens the truth about the black race, also in a way affirms Malcolm’s previous thought of his race. It also affirms James Brown pride in his colour when he sang in 1968 at Los Angles, ‘I am black and proud’ but in a way discouraged Michael Jackson’s several surgeries which defeated the real him. While some of what Elijah Muhammad’s studied might be true, there is still no proof up till this very day of this review that the white man ever brainwashed Negroes to accept Christianity on any oral or documented account. This makes Elijah Muhammad’s theory not substantial. Arguably, Christianity on the African continent only met with some taste of racial oppression, black’s loss of identity, when slavery also was at its peak and therefore, just in correlation with that which has been said above, the black will always want to find solace in something. And then Christianity sets in for the black majority.

Malcolm seems to have learnt so many things even while he was in prison [Pg 171], a total opposite to some parent’s thought that it is only in the formal school where anyone could be knowledgeable about anything. Though I will not in any way promote being a convict or ex-con, but there was more concentration for greater absorption of knowledge when he was isolated from distractions.

The ‘X’ substituting Malcolm’s surname became a question on the mind of the entire public, here is it. The ‘X’ substituting Malcolm’s surname came up as a result of his dislike to bear the white man’s slave name. Bearing Little is still more like him disappointing the race to which he belongs, so he had better follow Elijah Muhammad’s thought about getting the X in place of his surname after which Allah will replace it with another new name. Malcolm X, Lloyd X, Ulysses X all followed this same theory propounded by Elijah Muhammad.

[Pg 221] No Muslim who followed Elijah Muhammad could dance, gamble, date, attend movies or sport, or take long vacations from work…. This sounds controversial and won’t make an average American or African embrace Nations of Islam or the religion itself. Elijah Muhammad is making Islam so tough like military operations. I personally wonder what will become of the Muslim sisters and brothers if they can’t date, attend movies do sport or even take long vacations. These majorly are what give people joy and relaxation amidst several days of hustle and struggle. Elijah Muhammad might have been talking about a total concentration of the works of Allah but may not get the approval of the public where the aforementioned is concern. I’d even thought if all this still remains in this present day Islamic practice (maybe someone will clarify this for my understanding). Malcolm really grew into a good salesman and orator. His knowledge of persuasion and conviction infused into his teachings makes the public want to hear more of him. Often ending his teachings with the phrase “Who among you wish to follow The Honorable Elijah Muhammad” is such good punch line often used in churches where the preacher makes an altar call of commitment to salvation. Astonishing, this also make of him a good salesman, who is always concerned not only with the persuasive part of his talk but the commitment of his listeners.

Malcolm X was really hurt when news of Elijah Muhammad adultery flung open to the general public. And on seeing this myself, I was thrown aback, wondering how this happened. I’ve been reading about disciples being loyal to their lords, but the case of Malcolm X to Elijah Muhammad seems to be highly exceptional, even when Elijah Muhammad destroyed him at his back. To crown my awe at Malcolm’s dedication to the nation of Islam, I seem to be marvelled again when Malcolm and Wallace Muhammad had to objectively help Elijah Muhammad out of the mess he was, here making references to the bible. It now seems to be the final resort from where they sort for a solution to cleanse Elijah’s mess. And of course, the bible proffered the solution they both searched for. The question now stirs up in me, who else would have done it (help Elijah Muhammad out of his mess) better if not Malcolm X, the castigated faithful of Elijah Muhammad? You see, I begin to think if blacks regardless of their ethnicity or religious affiliation could just unite together, things will get better than it is now. He was faithful to the gallows even when he saw it staring at him.

Not trying to be a fanatic here, but after reading about some biblical characters, I seem not to agree with Elijah Muhammad’s statement with Malcolm X where he was comparing himself with some biblical characters like David, Noah and Lot [Pg 299]. What is he trying to achieve? I seem not to understand. Can anyone provide help?

Towards the end of this book, Malcolm was able to ascertain some crucial understandings about the racial prejudice in America. He feels that the America white man is not a racist but it is the American political economic and social atmosphere that automatically nourishes a racist psychology in the white man. He thinks the white man is not inherently evil but the America’s racist society influences him to act evilly which was more confirmed when he had contact with Islamic friends from his trip to the Holy land of Mecca.

The autobiography of Malcolm X is an honest unleashing of a die-hard patriotic American who met with death but disdain it in a bid to secure a level playing ground for his black countryman. Like Truman Nelson of THE NATION said, “A great book. It’s dead level honesty, its passion, its exalted purpose will make it stand as a monument to the most painful truth.”