The events in Birmingham, Alabama is evidence that the unfair treatment of African Americans led to the call for direct action. Suffering humiliating court rulings, police brutality, unsolved bombings, and broken promises by city officials are the reasons for the actions taken by the black community. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led a non-violent movement that opened the eyes of millions of Americans witnessing the protest on the streets of Birmingham. Dr. King’s actions of bringing justice for his people were just, his evidence regarding non-violent action comes from four basic steps; “the collection of facts to determine whether injustice exists; negotiations; self-purifications; and direct actions; are his reasons for the outroar and fight for equality by African Americans(66)”.
King first researched the problems before taking any steps toward protest. Merchants had made promises of removing the racial signs from stores if demonstrations were to be stopped but that came out like a broken promise, within weeks the signs were back up again. The 1954 Supreme Court ruling, desegregate all schools in the nation, yet in Birmingham, that law was never enforced and segregated schools still exist(71). Birmingham is also a city known for the most unsolved bombings of black houses and churches(66). Police brutality was also known throughout. Beatings, hosings with enough pressure to take the bark off a big tree, police dogs attacking people of all ages, are all factors to the non-violent movement taking place in 1963(66).
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Bringing the African American community together, to prepare and organize was a task. Dr. King made workshops directed towards non-violence. He questioned his people, “Are you able to accept blows without retaliating?”(67) “Are you able to endure the ordeal of jail?”(67) The community in turn sacrificed themselves and made headlines in Birmingham. Boycotting stores during Easter, putting pressure on the new Mayor, and getting the media involved, opened the eyes of America. Dr. King’s critiques criticize his demonstrations for being untimely and unwise. Eight clergymen during the south wrote a letter condemning Dr. King for his actions said, “…we are now confronted by a series of demonstrations by some of our Negro citizens, directed and led in part by outsiders.” which is written toward Dr. King to stay out of Birmingham’s political issues.
The clergymen also go on to say, “… however technically peaceful those actions may be, have not contributed to the resolution of our local problems.” These critiques believe that if the community calmed down, and through a peaceful process, the court systems will help bring equality for everyone. In the contrast, Dr. King believes his direct action will help bring equality at a faster rate yet in a peaceful way. He says, “ we know through painful experience, that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”(68) Dr. King feels that the court systems aren’t helpful, time has been wasted. Asian and other countries have developed at faster speeds and in the United States, the blacks fought for a cup of coffee to be served to them(69). Nevertheless, he tells his critiques that, “the purpose of his direct action is to create a pressure situation in which it will open the doors immediately to negotiation(68).”
Critiques also condemned Dr. King for breaking laws and that he was wrong in doing so. Dr. King himself believed in not breaking “just laws”, but “unjust laws” should be disobeyed(70). He defines an unjust law as, “ … a code that is out of harmony with the moral law.” “ An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law.” (70) Unjust laws maintain segregation and also deny citizens their First Amendment rights(72). King himself sacrificed his life not listing to the appeals of the court and broke “unjust laws” which landed him in jail. King’s actions were evident he fought for justice for the segregated man and woman. He did not break any just laws but laws that demoralized people. His critiques have no right to question or criticize him for his actions, like the Apostle Paul he was an “extremist”. Dr. King says, “We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God-given rights.”(69) Doing research, negotiating, self-purifying, and taking direct action is evidence that King provides for demanding justice and equality. There would still be segregation and injustices today in Birmingham and all over America if King didn’t take the actions to open the door to freedom.