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“Letter From a Birmingham Jail” vs. “I Have a Dream”


The social problems in the United States f America are quite hard to prevent. The facts of quick and somehow unwilling settlement of its population are raised in the discourse of various layers of American society. The “melting pot” of the country was ignored for a long time. The process is in progress now, but leaves much to be desired.

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The foundation of the country was based on the true and fair according to God’s Word and humanitarian principles, which had been violating in terms of Afro-American part of the nation until one person stood once for protection of rights which are also determined for Negros living in the United States. This paper deals with the most eminent works by Dr. Martin Luther King incorporated in a written and oral form. Two representations of convincing words willing to find truth and justice in the wilds of racial segregation and harsh and cruel discrimination are “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” and “I Have a Dream”.

Historical background and problem as it was

The violation of Civil Rights of Afro-Americans drew to a hand after the World War II when a number of wars with American participation in conflicts resolving in different parts of the world could not but increase the attentiveness of the population on the inside problematic issues. War in Vietnam was the reason for emergence of peace marches and public activity on a high level on the whole.

This was a great stimulus also to grab people’s attention on the problem of Afro-American citizens. In 1960s Dr. King in his speeches tries by means of direct and rather convincing arguments to point out the wrong way on which American society set its foot. Both speeches are similar in the main goal – further prevention of injustice appeared in the society of the US since it emerged on the political map of the world as a separated newly founded country.

“Letter from a Birmingham Jail” as a calling for freedom

The manner of presenting the author’s idea expresses by its delicate addressing to the public. His own thoughts and ideas implied in the first person singular Dr. King combines with respectful “we”. In the “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” King’s speech is addressed to several religious leaders, so that to take responsibility in Birmingham, Alabama, for the unjust attitude of white men towards black ones on the example of Martin L. King in person. He writes: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” (Jet, 1986, 31) It is represented in the form of letter, though; it did not lose its significance for the further changes inside the American society.

The main tool for resolving the problem Dr. King sees in promotion of negotiations with representatives of state power. “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” (Jet, 1986, 31)

“I Have a Dream” to start the epoch of changes

Another work maintained in speech was a triumphal march which was supported with the crowds of people. The event of Marche on Washington was described by Posner with the following statement: “As he spoke, and as thousands clapped and shouted, a nation was moved.” (Posner, 2006, 145) The speech was an impulse of a great power for the black constituent part of the nation to recover its spirits and for the white part of the society to look at home and provide changes on the governmental level. “Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.” (King, 1963)

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General frontage as of other nationalities

Addressing to the wholeness of American racial and ethnic diversity Dr. King states the following words: “Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.” (Jet, 1986, 32) In “I Have a Dream” this approach sounds like this: “we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands…” (King, 1963)


Jet. “King’s Letter From Birmingham Still Needs Whites To Answer ” (1986). Vol. 69; № 18. Johnson Publishing Company.

King, Martin Luther Jr. (1963). “I have a dream”. Web.

Posner. (2006). The Leadership Challenge. Wiley-India.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute. (2008) “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”. Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, October 28). “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” vs. “I Have a Dream”.

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"Letter From a Birmingham Jail” vs. “I Have a Dream." StudyCorgi, 28 Oct. 2021,

1. StudyCorgi. "Letter From a Birmingham Jail” vs. “I Have a Dream." October 28, 2021.


StudyCorgi. "Letter From a Birmingham Jail” vs. “I Have a Dream." October 28, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Letter From a Birmingham Jail” vs. “I Have a Dream." October 28, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) '“Letter From a Birmingham Jail” vs. “I Have a Dream”'. 28 October.

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