Disobeying a Law

Essay by flemrodCollege, Undergraduate April 2004

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Martin Luther King Jr. wrote "Letter from Birmingham City Jail" while he was incarcerated in Birmingham, Alabama. The reason for King being in jail was due to him breaking the law of "parading without a permit" (844). When he wrote this letter, "Birmingham was one of the most rigidly segregated cities in the South, although African Americans made up 40 percent of the population" (Garrow 1). Most laws are put in order to protect a person physically, mentally, or financially, but sometimes they must be disobeyed for the good of the people. Mr. King was more than obligated to break the law of protesting without a permit because the only reason it was enacted was to "preserve segregation and to deny citizens the First Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and peaceful protest" (844). One of the main points of his letter was the discussion of the inhumanity and injustice of segregation.

The segregation laws of the sixties are great examples of laws that should be broken for the good of the people. These laws diminished opportunities for people of African-American descent. One should have been obligated to disobey these laws because they were unjust, violated liberty, and didn't allow citizens to function in everyday life.

King said, "A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. An unjust law should be broken because is defies equity and fairness" (843). Segregation laws were unjust because they told people where they were allowed. Negroes were forbidden to enter amusement parks, businesses, and other public places and events. A Black not being allowed in these places was unjust because he or she was forbidden from going in...