There are several things that connect Lincoln’s second Inaugural Address to King’s Birmingham Jail Letter. Similarly, there are things that separate the two evident from the address and the letter. On the other hand, there must be a thing that stands out most in someone’s mind when they read both the inaugural address and the jail letter. Below is a discussion of the things that connect the two and the thing that separates the two. Also, there is a presentation of a reflection of what stands out most in someone’s mind in regard to Lincoln’s address and King’s letter.
The first thing that connects Lincoln and King through the writings is their dedication to out rightly speak against segregation. King had travelled to Birmingham for peaceful direct action responding to a call by his friends in the south who were against the segregation of the Afro-Americans by the whites. Similarly, Lincoln in his speech calls for the whites to stop segregating the “people of color” who are the Afro-Americans. For this reason, Lincoln and King are connected to each other by their stand against segregation.
The second thing that connects Lincoln and King through the writings is their reference to God all through their writings. King writes, “I am grateful to God that, through the influence of the Negro church, the way of nonviolence became an integral part of our struggle”. In this quotation, King seems to appreciate the influence of God on the happenings of the time. Similarly, Lincoln in his inaugural address says, “Yet if God wills that it continues until all the wealth piled…” This quotation shows that Lincoln acknowledges the dictates of the Highest on the happenings of the time just like King does. This perspective is a clear depiction of how Lincoln and King are connected through their writings.
The third thing that connects Lincoln and King through the two writings is their quest for the freedom of all American citizens. Lincoln was convinced that the slaves were equally as worth as their oppressors; the whites. He advocated that they should be given their full freedom without hatred and should be allowed to join unions too just like their white counterparts. Similarly, the reason King had gone to Birmingham for direct actions is to call for dialogues to negotiate the freedom of the Afro-Americans from the oppression of the white. Police had perpetuated their brutality on the African-Americans, more attacks on the Afro-American homes were reported, and the burning of churches was rampant. For this reason, King could not hold any longer and had to do something that would agitate the call for dialogue to negotiate the freedom of the Afro-Americans. In this perspective, King and Lincoln are connected through their writings.
The one thing that separates Lincoln and King in their writings is the use of direct action. Lincoln did not incite the public to the extent of holding boycotts and sit-ins. He instead used a persuasive speech calling upon the people of America to desist from segregation of the Afro-Americans. He did not direct people into action in an attempt to find an impromptu solution to the glaring segregation but rather, he left people to make their choices based on the rational speech he gave. On the other hand, King was in jail for inciting and leading people into direct but peaceful actions. He did this in an attempt to agitate the need for a dialogue to establish an impromptu solution to address the problem of the glaring injustices against Afro-Americans.
The one thing that stands out most in my mind in Lincoln’s address and King’s letter is their ability to present persuasive writings addressing segregation that was present in America at the time. They thus can be said to be good orators. In addition, they can be called the founding fathers of a multiracial nation that appreciates the presence of every individual without prejudice on the basis of origin, color or race. If it were not for their efforts to address these injustices at that particular time, maybe it could have taken longer for the citizens of America to appreciate the presence of different races in their country.
The speech in Montgomery, Alabama in January the 14th by the newly elected George Wallace adds to my perspective of Lincoln’s address and King’s letter in several ways. First, it is evident from the speech of the newly elected Governor that segregation was indeed a deeply rooted issue in America that the whites including the leaders were even willing to reinforce it publicly. Secondly, King’s call for peaceful direct actions to agitate a dialogue was justified. This is so because segregation was so intense that the leaders could not settle for a dialogue but instead, they incited the people to perpetuate segregation. For this reason, there was no way they could have sat down for a dialogue to end segregation without direct actions from Afro-Americans.
Goodwin, Doris K. Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005. Print.
King, Martin L, Clayborne Carson, Kris Shepard, and Peter Holloran. Martin Luther King, Jr: The Essential Box Set : the Landmark Speeches and Sermons of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. New York, N.Y: Hachette Audio, 2009. Sound recording.
Rieder, Jonathan. Gospel of Freedom: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail and the Struggle That Changed a Nation. , 2013. Print.
Second Inaugural Address (lincoln). S.l.: Great Neck Pub, 2009. Internet resource.
Levy, Peter B. “Spiro Agnew, the Forgotten Americans, and the Rise of the New Right.” Historian. 75.4 (2014): 707-739. Print.