Essay on Martin Luther King Jr.

1417 Words Apr 27th, 2016 6 Pages
Can a society be termed just if the laws that govern that society are unjust? Well in a society that viewed African Americans as inferior, Martin Luther King Jr. advocated nonviolence and the defiance of unjust laws in pursuit of political, economic, and social equality for African Americans. Kings belief in breaking unjust laws in a peaceful manner to achieve equality can be seen in his “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” when he says, “One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws”. Taking ideas from St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther King Jr. states that the segregation laws in place were not actually laws because they allowed White Americans to gain a sense of superiority while degrading African Americans sense of self. In his letter King expresses his desire for a just society in which there is equality for all regardless of skin color and suggests that this can be achieved by disobeying laws that degrade the human personality.
Martin Luther King Jr. provides the idea of disobeying unjust laws; while Thucydides and Sophocles provide specific examples where individuals disobeyed laws that they felt were unjust. In Thucydides History of the Peloponnesian War the Athenians’ try to force the island of Melos into servitude but the Melians decide they would rather fight than be subjugated to the degrading laws imposed by the Athenians. Similar to the story of the Melians…

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