Reading MLK Jr’s Letter from Birmingham City Jail is quite moving. It is a hard imagine that it was only 42 years ago that he was writing a letter that detailed his need for peaceful movement against his oppressors. He acknowledged when it was appropriate to break laws,
there are just laws and there are unjust laws. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with Saint Augustine that ‘an unjust law is no law at all’ (Cummings. 2015. p.581)
King continues on talking about oppression and how it affects the oppressed, and their need to express their distaste for the unjust laws against them. King says, “if his repressed emotions do not come out in these nonviolent ways, they will come out in ominous expressions of violence” (Cummings. 2015. p.584). This makes complete and total sense, If I faced the segregation and oppression these people faced, and was not able to express myself hate would not doubt manifest within me and violence would seem like the logical answer.
What comes to mind when reading this is the unrest among the black population in America, while violence is not the answer there is a lot that has led up to the violence. People are naïve to think that 40 years is enough time to heal the wounds of segregation and oppression and that the ripples from it are still not present today.