The Strong Moral Values as Portrayed in King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”

This is FREE sample
This text is free, available online and used for guidance and inspiration. Need a 100% unique paper? Order a custom essay.
  • Any subject
  • Within the deadline
  • Without paying in advance
Get custom essay

The presence of strong moral values developed King’s character, which enabled him to become one of the most influential leaders of our time. Integrity is a central value in a leader’s character and it is through integrity that King had vision of the truth. The truth that one day this nation would live up to the creed, “all men are created equal”. King taught this truth using tactics of non- violent resistance. He was brought up believing “one man can make a difference”, and this is just what he taught us… without violence. Even when his own life and the life of his family were threatened, King remained peaceful.

In his “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, he could only hope that what he had written will be seen as the truth: “If I have said anything in this letter that overstates the truth and indicates an unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me. If I have said anything that understates the truth and indicates my having a patience that allows me to settle for anything less than brotherhood, I beg God to forgive me.”(King) King also believed that all people should be treated with equality and faimess; anything less was unjust.

This became the basis for the Civil Rights Movement. The fairness King sought was one value that allowed King’s followers to have so much respect for him. King wanted to see justice prevail and he and many of his follower felt that it did in the signing of the 1964 and 1968 Civil Rights Act. Through King’s strategies, minorities were granted many rights they had previously been refused. They now had the right to vote, access public accommodations, and racial discrimination was prohibited in the sale or rental of housing. With this King was one-step closer to seeing America live up to the creed, “all men are created equal”.

King believed in his fight for justice so strongly that he described himself as follows: “If you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice; say that I was a drum major for peace; I was a drum major for righteousness”. (King) Non-violence is a very important moral value that shapes the character of any great leader. This is by far one of the strongest attributes, which enabled him to reach his plateau of leadership excellence. His peaceful attitude was the major driving force behind his plans. King was very much aware of the power of non-violent tactics in an attempt for social changes.

President Kennedy gave respect to the movement and reacted to protests in Birmingham by agreeing to submit broad civil rights legislation to Congress, which eventually passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. King had modeled his philosophy on that of Mohandas Gandhi, who is one of the world’s greatest advocates of non-violent resistance. During his meeting with Gandhi, he became more convinced than ever that non-violent resistance was the most powerful weapon for oppressed people in their struggle for freedom. He voiced his beliefs of non-violent resistance in his “I have a dream”, speech which has become, for good reason, one of the worlds most memorable speeches of our time. He said:

The true meaning of a man is not how he behaves in moments of comfort and convince, but how he stands at times of controversy and challenge. We must not allow our creative protests to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The dynamics of this moral value of non-violence are very evident in the make up of Martin Luther King Jr.’s character. This is why this tactic of active non-violence (sit-ins, protest marches) had put civil-right squarely on the national agenda. If King had gone about seeking change with violence, he would not have been met with the respect he needed to see justice prevail.

The values of non-violence and peace are very much intertwined. Both are key elements of King’s character and actions. His actions are a result of his values. He values peace and non-violence, and therefore that is was how he did things. His methods forced many states to adopt changes and integration. The president of the United States of America also had to take notice because of the respectability King put into the Civil-Rights movement. For his actions on behalf of peace, he received the highest and most recognizable award in the world for his work and achievements. In December of 1964, King received the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway for his outstanding work in the American Civil Rights movement.

I Have a Dream: Writings and Speeches that Changed the World by Martin Luther King, Harper, San Fransisco, 1992.

Cite this paper

The Strong Moral Values as Portrayed in King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”. (2023, May 13). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/the-strong-moral-values-as-portrayed-in-kings-letter-from-birmingham-jail/

We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Peter is on the line!

Don't settle for a cookie-cutter essay. Receive a tailored piece that meets your specific needs and requirements.

Check it out