Concept of Equality in The Declaration of Independence and Letter from Birmingham Jail

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Equality can be described in different ways, and can be interpreted differently; the word generally means being equal in status, rights, and opportunities. In the stories “The Declaration of Independence” and “Letter from Birmingham Jail” Jefferson and Dr. Kings approach to equality are similar because they are rebelling against the governments unjust laws, they are also doing it for religious reasons, and are both willing to die for freedom. However they differ because Dr.King is advocating for unity and Jefferson is fighting for separation, Martin Luther King’s approach is non-violent and Jefferson’s approach is violent, another reason why they are both different is that Jefferson believes all white men are created equal and Dr. King believes everybody is equal regarding your race, religion, ethnicity, and gender.

Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence writes about the unjust laws the British government imposes on the colonists. He writes in the Declaration of Independence about King George III’s oppression towards the colonies, in the text he gives many examples of the oppression they face when ruled by the king, one of the examples he writes is “For protecting them, by a mock trial, from punishment for any Murders which they would commit on the Inhabitants of the States” (Jefferson 2). The government protected soldiers for crimes committed against the colonists; this is unjust since they had no standpoint in the trials against them. Jefferson also states that the king imposes taxes on the colonists without their consent, taxed without representation is unjust since the colonists had no voice in government decisions and how much the tax imposed on them was going to be.

Martin Luther King also writes about the unjust laws in Letter from Birmingham Jail, the city of Birmingham is an oppressive city against African Americans, Martin Luther King states in the story he had a talk with leaders of the Birmingham economic community, they had discussed to remove the humiliating signs imposed by the store owners in the city, Dr. King states “As the weeks and months went by, we realized that we were the victims of a broken promise. A few signs, briefly removed, returned; the others remained”. (King 2). There were no government regulations on the signs posted in the stores which are very unjust to the African American community living in Birmingham.

Martin Luther King also brings his daughter into the story, and states “when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Fun town is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people”.(King 3). Martin Luther king describes the personal treatment of the unjust laws affecting his family; the park states colored children cannot enter a public amusement park, which is unjust since the amusement park is public and only allows white families to enter the park.

Martin Luther King was fighting for equality due to religious reasons as well, King writes to a group of fellow Christian clergymen and indirectly directed to a religious country, King makes Biblical references and religious arguments in Letter from Birmingham Jail King States in the text “Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their “thus saith the Lord” far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid…” (King 1). King responds to the main criticisms of the clergy men; he uses his critic’s arguments against their owns king wants to carry his message far and wide across the country so everybody could get the same message of America being a place of true Freedom.

Thomas Jefferson refers to religion and god in the Declaration of Independence many times and in the writing Jefferson uses words like “laws of nature and natures of god” in which Jefferson believes that the colonists deserve to be separate and equal to all other countries, when he is referring to nature he means the colonists are entitled to being free and independent. He also writes in “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights” Jefferson believes all men are created equal and are given rights by their Creator to which he refers to go. Jefferson includes god in the declaration of independence because it helped lay out a basis for religion in America.


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Concept of Equality in The Declaration of Independence and Letter from Birmingham Jail. (2021, Jan 16). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/concept-of-equality-in-the-declaration-of-independence-and-letter-from-birmingham-jail/



How does the Declaration of Independence support the civil rights movement?
The Declaration of Independence supports the civil rights movement by asserting that all people are created equal and have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This document also emphasizes the importance of government protecting these rights, which has been a central focus of the civil rights movement.
What are the key concepts of the Letter from Birmingham Jail?
In the "Letter from Birmingham Jail", Martin Luther King, Jr. discusses the importance of civil disobedience in fighting for justice, and argues that people have a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.
What does Dr King write about freedom in the Letter from Birmingham Jail pertaining to the oppressor?
Dr King writes that the oppressor is not really free, because he is not living in a way that recognizes the humanity of others. The oppressor is also harming himself, because he is not living in a way that allows him to reach his full potential.
What is the main purpose of MLK's Letter from a Birmingham Jail?
Dr Jekyll is the main character in the book, and Mr Hyde is his evil alter ego.
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