Thoreau’s essays showed resistance to unjust laws and governments and was inspired to write “Civil Disobedience,” by his experience of being arrested and jailed for refusing to pay his poll tax, due to him believing that it was being used to fund the Mexican-American war. He became encouraged, and soon was triggered to write about the problems that he was going through. A change was needed to be made, so he took a stand.. Later on, Martin Luther King Jr. was inspired to write his famous essay “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” because of him being accused of being someone who was trying to cause trouble and create anarchy. They then declared that hatred and violence have no penalty throughout his religious and political beliefs. Which led to MLK speaking out and giving his reasoning for his being in Birmingham. While Thoreau and Martin Luther King Jr. shared many influences between civil disobedience, MLK has spoken out against injustice, just as Thoreau stood by his belief of confidence in morally right resistance and taking the lead against the government.
Thoreau takes it upon himself to prove that there was no waiting around and that now was the right time. He has no time to waste, until he takes the lead and makes a difference in the society. He states “If we were left solely to the wordy wit of legislatures in Congress for our guidance, and the effectual complaints of the people, America would not long retain her rank among the nation.” By this he means that if people just let the government lead the way and not ask any questions, that they would just continue to add laws, without having any problems. His point is that a law can’t just be put in place because it was issued by the government. MLK also put in his opinion when he said, “we will be sadly mistaken if we feel that the election of Mr. Boutwell will bring the millennium to Birmingham.” MLK is stating that there cannot be any waiting around, or else the government won’t do anything about these people having the chance to get their rights. Due to the similarity of not waiting around and taking any possible risks that may cause things to get worse, MLK was given the influential ability to take a step forward into getting what he wants, which are his rights because of Thoreau. There was nothing more than black people’s right that bothered him the most.
With Thoreau teaching MLK leadership, soon afterward they both showed their fight that they gave towards what they believed in. Therefore, Thoreau was all about fighting for mortality and to never be satisfied with injustice. Thoreau states, “ they do not know by how much truth is stronger than error, nor how much more eloquently and effectively he can combat injustice who has experienced a little in his own person.” With that being said, he’s proving that someone who is social and upright should not show no interest in injustice beginning to happen throughout society. Thoreau is trying to express to let nothing hold you back no matter if its a group or an individual because every bit of fight is worth it. MLK has shown just as much fight as him through painful experience. He states, “freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” A change must be made, but in a way to where everyone notices, such as an action .MLK is willing to suffer, but to never give up until he gets what he needs to become fair for society. The right for society was his main focus and once he accomplishes that, he knew that what he was doing was important to everyone.
Thoreau influenced MLK in three special ways, the first being to always follow what you believe in. They dealt with two different situations, Thoreau dealing with jail time because of taxes, while MLK participated in sit-in at luncheon counters causing himself to be arrested. Both of them had the same intentions of making a plethora of changes in the government and the society. They soon ended up making the same approaches by writing out about it and encouraging each other to not let everyone else walk all over you, just because of something that you strongly believe wasn’t necessary. The lesson that is taught is to strive for you beliefs was shown by Thoreau and carried forward within MLK. Because they had the same strong beliefs, Thoreau taught MLK to continue to work hard. Both of the them used civil disobedience in a way to help people’s ideas and beliefs, in order to stop the injustice in which was brought against them and their nation.
However, the second similarity by Thoreau to MLK was that they became convinced about the moral obligations along with cooperation that they gave. He influenced him to incorporate the American traditions into allowing his voice to be heard. Without his voice, no one around him as a group would be heard. MLK speaks out for the group and not only himself. Both writers wrote with a purpose for everyone to get through their heads that this really can happen and to fight for their rights in order for them to come. They won’t just be handed to them like some may think. With that said, MLK and Thoreau fed off of each others writing and came up with writing with the same purpose and that all of the effort will pay off in the long run. They came to the conclusion that someone had to do something incredible, just as they did and they both just happened to be making a huge effect on this world that we live in.
The third similarity being that Thoreau fought for the rights of blacks as well as MLK did. Thoreau had the motivation that MLK needed in order to oppose injustice. Along with that, MLK was given the many chances to make society a whole different place, whenever he felt it has hit its breaking point. . Thoreau stated his bold statement that made people begin to question what was happening in the real world. They both strongly believe in nonviolence, so the only way for them to make a difference was to feed off of each other in order to come up with a way to make people realize what was really happening. The direct action that each of them took with the entirety of people helped bring others out to fight too. Each similarity has led to an influence between Thoreau and MLK, introducing injustice within the laws and people of the nation. The government for both writers was quiet the issue, but the outcome was to make the laws less of an issue instead of just throwing them around like they were nothing. They were meant to allow the society to follow not go against, but Thoreau and MLK both stood against them being worthless.
In conclusion, Thoreau and MLK have spoken out against equality and fairness, as well as the confidence that was expressed through his moral beliefs against the government. MLK and Thoreau followed through with many of their life struggles in the form of writing, in which they made a difference in the nation. Without Thoreau teaching MLK how to make his point come across, he would’ve had the biggest struggle of his life, spending his time in jail. The similarities of both men allowed them to learn from each others mistakes and improve on how they were going to make sure that their plan was going to work. MLK’s nonviolent approach impressed people in so many other ways, that they even began to make a stand as well. All in all, their strong beliefs allowed everyone including the government to hear about this issue that was happening to not only them. MLK and Thoreau changed the society and spoke aloud for those who believe that justice for everyone was to be spoken about.