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

  • Arielle Sullivan

    Picture of Arielle Sullivan. Arielle Sullivan is a Huntsville native and 2004 graduate of Huntsville High School. After high school, Arielle attended the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) where she participated in the UAB Wind Symphony, University Honors Program and Pre-Med program among several other student organizations. In 2007, Arielle graduated from UAB magna cum laude with a B.S. in Mathematics. Arielle earned a second degree from UAB in 2008 with her M.S. in Mathematics. After UAB, Arielle went on to earn her Doctor of Medicine from the University of South Alabama in 2012 and has just begun her residency program in Columbus, GA with the Columbus Regional Healthcare System and hopes to practice family medicine in the near future.

    "…it’s kind of surreal…the first time I went to the 16th Street Baptist Church, to think that it was just a regular church service that I went to…nothing special, and it was under similar circumstances that the girls were in…just the shuffling around before service began before their lives were ended and the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham really took off..."    - Arielle Sullivan

     
  • 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