Student Writings on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Need for Immediate Action

By Jeung Ryu, a student in Ethics: Theories of Good and Evil. 

Among many of the points laid out by Martin Luther King Jr. in his letter from a Birmingham jail, he explains to his fellow clergymen why direct actions are needed instead of negotiations...

In the face of doubt of his approach and the call for more peaceful and passive means of demonstrating, King points out that direct action of nonviolence is exactly what they need to negotiate. He believes that the long neglect of the need for negotiations by the white community had made the direct actions inevitable. He is convinced that the freedom from oppression by the whites will not be freely given by the whites. He then adds credibility to his argument by making an analogy between the need for direct actions and Socrates' teaching. As Socrates had claimed that "tension" is needed to break free from the "bondage," he believes that tension is needed to address racism and to lift blacks from segregation and prejudices.

King then dismisses his opponents’ claim that his actions are untimely and further asserts that the actions are needed "now." In order to back up his argument that the direct actions are promptly needed, King then tells a series of emotion-evoking stories to help renders visualize and understand the ordeal that the oppressed goes through on a daily basis and to help them realize why they need to take actions now. To reinforce his argument he cites a repeating historical trend that the oppressors do not voluntarily give up their privileges. He believes that just like the Christians who fought the religious oppression, and the Americans who fought the British for their unjust taxation, Americans once again need to fight the immorality of segregation swiftly.

Through a series of arguments, including the above-mentioned, King prompts the members and leaders of the community to support his cause to end the evil of discrimination.


Inspiring Students

  • William Anderson


    Picture of William Anderson. William C. Anderson, a native of Birmingham Alabama, attained a bachelors degree in Social Work from University of Alabama at Birmingham in May 2012. At the age of 23, Anderson has over 5 years experience in social justice, community organizing, and nonprofit work. The majority of William’s community organizing as of late has surrounded immigration, labor, and racial solidarity. Anderson is now currently based in Washington, DC, working for a union while maintaining a relationship with immigrants rights organizations through his affiliations with the National Immigrant Youth Alliance [NIYA] & DreamActivist DC. 


    “UAB is representative of a lot of things because people look to Birmingham as the mecca and beacon of the Civil Rights Movement... the history, everything that’s happened, that’s gone on so far…If you’re a native Alabamian and Birmingham resident…then I feel like there should be some sort of expectation that you recognize, that you represent something much greater and deeper being on these streets that are stained with the blood, sweat, and tears of people who could have been killed for just going in the wrong door, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, for making eye contact with someone of a different race…You have the unique opportunity to be around so much rich history and if you don’t take advantage of it for the betterment of this entire world, then I feel as though you are handicapping our society.”   - William C. Anderson

     
  • Chernell Bizzell

    Picture of Chernell Bizzell.Chernell Bizzell is a 2011 graduate of the African American Studies Program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). Now in graduate school at the University of Montevallo, Chernell plans to graduate with a Masters of Education in Counseling in 2014. While in graduate school full time, she remains committed to community engagement and academics while working for the family court system through UAB in Bessemer, Alabama. In the future Chernell plans to work with non-custodial mothers and women with substance abuse.

    Chernell reflects on the Civil Rights Movement