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AfriGeneas Writers Forum

A Writer's Template: Dr. King's Birmingham

Dear Afrigeneas Forum Writers:

Finding your "Voice" when you pen your thoughts can be elusive. Writing your family history can be an even bigger challenge. One way to refine/define your voice on paper is to envision an audience. Think of it as you would in composing a letter to someone or to a group.

Letter writing is almost a lost art. The Internet has changed the way we communicate. Instead of clearly writing an amusing description, we now use a smiley or LOL. If it is a more serious message, we rely on a spell check grammar, which may destroy the essence of what we are trying to communicate. Even worse are messages written in lower case or bullet sentences that have no pronoun “Looking for Need info.”

Therefore it’s refreshing to read the thoughts of Dr. King.

Dr. King's legendary "Letter From a Birmingham Jail" is not only inspirational but also a template for writing our thoughts. He addresses his audience: "MY DEAR FELLOW CLERGYMEN." But to the clergy audience, it seems as if he was writing a personal message to every individual.

Dr King uses history to remind them that civil disobedience against oppressive laws is justified. His examples are not centered on the African American experience. He reaches back through time to underline that inhumanity to man is a universal. By citing historical cruelties, D. King reinforces the message that racial discrimination is not just an American anomaly but a direct connection to the struggle against global injustice.

“Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was seen sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar because a higher moral law was involved. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks, before submitting to certain unjust laws of the Roman empire. To a degree academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience.
We can never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was "legal" and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was "illegal." It was "illegal" to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler's Germany. But I am sure that if I had lived in Germany during that time I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers even though it was illegal. If I lived in a Communist country today where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I believe I would openly advocate disobeying these anti-religious laws.”

Enjoy and be inspired by “Letter From a Birmingham Jail.”

Write Away

Messages In This Thread

A Writer's Template: Dr. King's Birmingham
Re: A Writer's Template: Dr. King's Birmingham
Re: A Writer's Template: Dr. King's Birmingham

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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