Essay on Martin Luther King and Frederick Douglass

Essay by Josiah HornblowerCollege, UndergraduateB+, March 1997

download word file, 4 pages 3.6

Race relations, especially between blacks and whites, have always been a

problematic and fiery issue throughout United States' history. Frederick Douglass was a

self-taught black man who wrote about his experiences as a slave. In his book, "From

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave", he makes many brilliant

depictions and insights into the injustices and cruelty of slavery. In 1863, Lincoln

announced the Emancipation Proclamation and blacks were forever freed from slavery.

However, this did not put an end to racial tension or to the black man's hope for racial

equality. One hundred years later, segregation was the prevailing system, a system not

nearly as cruel as slavery, but still it was evil and of great hardship to the twentieth century

black man. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote a letter from jail justifying his "nonviolent"

crusade to end segregation forever. King's letter is through and his ideas and arguments

are expressed efficiently with well-grounded rationale.

Douglass is more difficult to

understand because there is much more substance under the surface of his writing.

Although they are separated by a century, Douglass and King parallel each other

significantly. King's rhetoric and system of analysis are a helpful lens1 through which to

scrutinize and extract the important realizations dwelling in Douglass's story.

Both King and Douglass describe a predicament in which they face a clash

between white man's law and moral law. Douglass tells a story of his personal experience,

whereas King is more concerned with making his points and backing them up with his

concrete examples.

King is more descriptive, more scholarly in his writing considering he was formally

educated and more exposed than Douglass who was born a slave. King thought laws

prohibiting a black man from sitting in the white section of the bus...