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Мне всег­да нра­вилось ра­ботать с людь­ми, по­это­му еще в шко­ле я оп­ре­дели­ла для се­бя эту сте­зю. Это, дей­стви­тель­но, очень ин­те­рес­но по­нять внут­ренние цен­ности че­лове­ка, его стрем­ле­ния, це­ли. По­нима­ние лю­дей есть ключ к дос­ти­жению эф­фектив­ности их ра­боты. Далее…

Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr

«Спра­вед­ли­вость, что отк­ла­дыва­ют — это спра­вед­ли­вость, в ко­торой от­ка­зыва­ют». В про­тивос­то­янии за­яв­ле­ни­ям о том, что дви­жении о граж­данс­ких пра­вах аф­ро-аме­рикан­цев преж­девре­мен­ны, Мар­тин Лю­тер Кинг пи­шет оп­ро­вер­же­ние из тюрь­мы, ис­поль­зуя раз­ные ри­тори­чес­кие при­емы и об­ра­ща­ясь к раз­личным ауди­тори­ям для до­каза­тель­ства несп­ра­вед­ли­вос­ти граж­данс­ких за­конов США.

My de­ar fel­low cler­gy­men:

Whi­le con­fi­ned he­re in the Bir­ming­ham ci­ty ja­il, I ca­me ac­ross your re­cent sta­tement cal­ling my pre­sent ac­ti­viti­es «un­wi­se and un­ti­mely.» Sel­dom do I pa­use to ans­wer cri­ticism of my work and ide­as… But sin­ce I fe­el that you are men of ge­nu­ine go­od will and that your cri­ticisms are sin­ce­rely set forth, I want to try to ans­wer your sta­tements in what I ho­pe will be pa­ti­ent and re­aso­nab­le terms.
I think I sho­uld in­di­cate why I am he­re in Bir­ming­ham, sin­ce you ha­ve be­en inf­lu­en­ced by the vi­ew which ar­gu­es aga­inst «out­si­ders co­ming in.»… I am he­re be­ca­use I ha­ve or­ga­niza­ti­onal ti­es he­re… But mo­re ba­sical­ly, I am in Bir­ming­ham be­ca­use in­justi­ce is he­re…
Mo­re­over, I am cog­ni­zant of the in­terre­lated­ness of all com­mu­niti­es and sta­tes. I can­not sit id­ly by in At­lanta and not be con­cerned abo­ut what hap­pens in Bir­ming­ham. In­justi­ce anyw­he­re is a thre­at to jus­ti­ce eve­ryw­he­re. We are ca­ught in an ines­ca­pab­le net­work of mu­tu­ali­ty, ti­ed in a sing­le gar­ment of des­ti­ny. Wha­tever af­fects one di­rect­ly, af­fects all in­di­rect­ly. Ne­ver aga­in can we af­ford to li­ve with the nar­row, pro­vin­ci­al «out­si­de agi­tator» idea. Any­one who li­ves in­si­de the Uni­ted Sta­tes can ne­ver be con­si­dered an out­si­der anyw­he­re wit­hin its bo­unds.
You dep­lo­re the de­mons­tra­ti­ons ta­king pla­ce In Bir­ming­ham. But your sta­tement, I am sor­ry to say, fa­ils to exp­ress a si­milar con­cern for the con­di­ti­ons that bro­ught abo­ut the de­mons­tra­ti­ons. I am su­re that no­ne of you wo­uld want to rest con­tent with the su­per­fi­ci­al kind of so­ci­al ana­lysis that de­als me­rely with ef­fects and do­es not grapp­le with un­derly­ing ca­uses. It is un­fortu­nate that de­mons­tra­ti­ons are ta­king pla­ce in Bir­ming­ham, but it is even mo­re un­fortu­nate that the ci­ty’s whi­te po­wer struc­tu­re left the Neg­ro com­mu­nity with no al­terna­tive.
In any non­vi­olent cam­pa­ign the­re are fo­ur ba­sic steps: col­lecti­on of the facts to de­ter­mi­ne whet­her in­justi­ces exist; ne­goti­ation; self-pu­rifi­cati­on; and di­rect ac­ti­on. We ha­ve go­ne thro­ugh an the­se steps in Bir­ming­ham. The­re can be no ga­in­sa­ying the fact that ra­ci­al in­justi­ce en­gulfs this com­mu­nity. Bir­ming­ham is pro­bab­ly the most tho­ro­ugh­ly seg­re­gated ci­ty in the Uni­ted Sta­tes. Its ug­ly re­cord of bru­tali­ty is wi­dely known. Neg­ro­es ha­ve ex­pe­ri­en­ced gross­ly un­just tre­at­ment in the co­urts. The­re ha­ve be­en mo­re un­solved bom­bings of Neg­ro ho­mes and churc­hes in Bir­ming­ham than in any ot­her ci­ty in the na­ti­on. The­se are the hard, bru­tal facts of the ca­se. On the ba­sis of the­se con­di­ti­ons, Neg­ro le­aders so­ught to ne­goti­ate with the ci­ty fat­hers. But the lat­ter con­sistent­ly re­fused to en­ga­ge in go­od-fa­ith ne­goti­ation.
Then, last Sep­tember, ca­me the op­portu­nity to talk with le­aders of Bir­ming­ham’s eco­nomic com­mu­nity. In the co­ur­se of the ne­goti­ations, cer­ta­in pro­mises we­re ma­de by the merc­hants --- for examp­le, to re­move the sto­res hu­mili­ating ra­ci­al signs. On the ba­sis of the­se pro­mises, the Re­verend Fred Shutt­les­worth and the le­aders of the Ala­bama Chris­ti­an Mo­vement for Hu­man Rights ag­re­ed to a mo­rato­ri­um on all de­mons­tra­ti­ons. As the we­eks and months went by, we re­ali­zed that we we­re the vic­tims of a bro­ken pro­mise. A few signs, bri­ef­ly re­moved, re­tur­ned; the ot­hers re­ma­ined.
As in so ma­ny past ex­pe­ri­en­ces, our ho­pes bad be­en blas­ted, and the sha­dow of de­ep di­sap­po­int­ment sett­led upon us. We had no al­terna­tive ex­cept to pre­pare for di­rect ac­ti­on, whe­reby we wo­uld pre­sent our ve­ry bo­di­es as a me­ans of la­ying our ca­se be­fore the cons­ci­en­ce of the lo­cal and the na­ti­onal com­mu­nity. Mind­ful of the dif­fi­cul­ti­es in­volved, we de­cided to un­derta­ke a pro­cess of self-pu­rifi­cati­on. We be­gan a se­ri­es of work­shops on non­vi­olen­ce, and we re­pe­ated­ly as­ked our­selves: «Are you ab­le to ac­cept blows wit­ho­ut re­tali­ating?» «Are you ab­le to en­du­re the or­de­al of ja­il?»

….. You may well ask: «Why di­rect ac­ti­on? Why sit-ins, marc­hes and so forth? Isn’t ne­goti­ation a bet­ter path?» You are qui­te right in cal­ling, for ne­goti­ation. In­de­ed, this is the ve­ry pur­po­se of di­rect ac­ti­on. Non­vi­olent di­rect ac­ti­on se­eks to cre­ate such a cri­sis and fos­ter such a ten­si­on that a com­mu­nity which has cons­tan­tly re­fused to ne­goti­ate is for­ced to conf­ront the is­sue. It se­eks so to dra­mati­ze the is­sue that it can no lon­ger be ig­no­red. My ci­ting the cre­ation of ten­si­on as part of the work of the non­vi­olent-re­sis­ter may so­und rat­her shoc­king. But I must con­fess that I am not af­ra­id of the word «ten­si­on.» I ha­ve ear­nest­ly op­po­sed vi­olent ten­si­on, but the­re is a ty­pe of cons­truc­ti­ve, non­vi­olent ten­si­on which is ne­ces­sa­ry for growth. Just as Soc­ra­tes felt that it was ne­ces­sa­ry to cre­ate a ten­si­on in the mind so that in­di­vidu­als co­uld ri­se from the bon­da­ge of myths and half-truths to the un­fette­red re­alm of cre­ati­ve ana­lysis and ob­jecti­ve app­ra­isal, we must we see the ne­ed for non­vi­olent gadf­li­es to cre­ate the kind of ten­si­on in so­ci­ety that will help men ri­se from the dark depths of pre­judi­ce and ra­cism to the ma­jes­tic he­ights of un­ders­tan­ding and brot­herho­od.
The pur­po­se of our di­rect-ac­ti­on prog­ram is to cre­ate a si­tu­ation so cri­sis-pac­ked that it will ine­vitab­ly open the do­or to ne­goti­ation. I the­refo­re con­cur with you in your call for ne­goti­ation. Too long has our be­loved So­uth­land be­en bog­ged down in a tra­gic ef­fort to li­ve in mo­nolo­gue rat­her than di­alo­gue.
One of the ba­sic po­ints in your sta­tement is that the ac­ti­on that I and my as­so­ci­ates ha­ve ta­ken in Bir­ming­ham is un­ti­mely. So­me ha­ve as­ked: «Why didn’t you gi­ve the new ci­ty ad­mi­nist­ra­ti­on ti­me to act?» The on­ly ans­wer that I can gi­ve to this que­ry is that the new Bir­ming­ham ad­mi­nist­ra­ti­on must be prod­ded abo­ut as much as the out­go­ing one, be­fore it will act…
We ha­ve not ma­de a sing­le ga­in ci­vil rights wit­ho­ut de­ter­mi­ned le­gal and non­vi­olent pres­su­re. La­men­tably, it is an his­to­rical fact that pri­vile­ged gro­ups sel­dom gi­ve up the­ir pri­vile­ges vo­lun­ta­rily. In­di­vidu­als may see the mo­ral light and vo­lun­ta­rily gi­ve up the­ir un­just pos­tu­re; but, as Re­in­hold Ni­ebuhr has re­min­ded us, gro­ups tend to be mo­re im­mo­ral than in­di­vidu­als.
We know thro­ugh pa­in­ful ex­pe­ri­en­ce that fre­edom is ne­ver vo­lun­ta­rily gi­ven by the opp­res­sor; it must be de­man­ded by the opp­res­sed. Frank­ly, I ha­ve yet to en­ga­ge in a di­rect-ac­ti­on cam­pa­ign that was «well ti­med» in the vi­ew of tho­se who ha­ve not suf­fe­red un­du­ly from the di­se­ase of seg­re­gati­on. For years now I ha­ve he­ard the word «Wa­it!» It rings in the ear of eve­ry Neg­ro with pi­er­cing fa­mili­ari­ty. This «Wa­it» has al­most al­wa­ys me­ant ’Ne­ver. " We must co­me to see, with one of our dis­tingu­is­hed ju­rists, that «jus­ti­ce too long de­la­yed is jus­ti­ce de­ni­ed.»
We ha­ve wa­ited for mo­re than 340 years for our cons­ti­tuti­onal and God-gi­ven rights. The na­ti­ons of Asia and Af­ri­ca are mo­ving with jet­li­ke spe­ed to­ward ga­ining po­liti­cal in­de­pen­dence, but we stiff cre­ep at hor­se-and-bug­gy pa­ce to­ward ga­ining a cup of cof­fee at a lunch co­un­ter. Per­haps it is easy for tho­se who ha­ve ne­ver felt the stin­ging dark of seg­re­gati­on to say, «Wa­it.» But when you ha­ve se­en vi­ci­ous mobs lynch your mot­hers and fat­hers at will and drown your sis­ters and brot­hers at whim; when you ha­ve se­en ha­te-fil­led po­lice­men cur­se, kick and even kill your black brot­hers and sis­ters; when you see the vast ma­jori­ty of your twen­ty mil­li­on Neg­ro brot­hers smot­he­ring in an air­tight ca­ge of po­ver­ty in the midst of an aff­lu­ent so­ci­ety; when you sud­denly find your ton­gue twis­ted and your spe­ech stam­me­ring as you se­ek to exp­la­in to your six-year-old da­ugh­ter why she can’t go to the pub­lic amu­sement park that has just be­en ad­verti­sed on te­levi­si­on, and see te­ars wel­ling up in her eyes when she is told that Fun­town is clo­sed to co­lored child­ren, and see omi­no­us clo­uds of in­fe­ri­ori­ty be­gin­ning to form in her litt­le men­tal sky, and see her be­gin­ning to dis­tort her per­so­nali­ty by de­velo­ping an un­cons­ci­ous bit­terness to­ward whi­te pe­op­le; when you ha­ve to con­coct an ans­wer for a fi­ve-year-old son who is as­king: «Dad­dy, why do whi­te pe­op­le tre­at co­lored pe­op­le so me­an?»; when you ta­ke a cross-co­un­ty dri­ve and find it ne­ces­sa­ry to sle­ep night af­ter night in the un­comfor­table cor­ners of your auto­mobi­le be­ca­use no mo­tel will ac­cept you; when you are hu­mili­ated day in and day out by nag­ging signs re­ading «whi­te» and «co­lored»; when your first na­me be­comes «nig­ger,» your midd­le na­me be­comes «boy» (ho­wever old you are) and your last na­me be­comes «John,» and your wi­fe and mot­her are ne­ver gi­ven the res­pected tit­le «Mrs.»; when you are har­ri­ed by day and ha­un­ted by night by the fact that you are a Neg­ro, li­ving cons­tan­tly at tip­toe stan­ce, ne­ver qui­te kno­wing what to ex­pect next, and are pla­gu­ed with in­ner fe­ars and outer re­sent­ments; when you no fo­rever figh­ting a de­gene­rating sen­se of «no­bodi­ness» then you will un­ders­tand why we find it dif­fi­cult to wa­it. The­re co­mes a ti­me when the cup of en­du­ran­ce runs over, and men are no lon­ger wil­ling to be plun­ged in­to the abyss of des­pa­ir. I ho­pe, sirs, you can un­ders­tand our le­giti­mate and una­vo­idab­le im­pa­ti­en­ce.
You exp­ress a gre­at de­al of an­xi­ety over our wil­ling­ness to bre­ak laws. This is cer­ta­in­ly a le­giti­mate con­cern. Sin­ce we so di­ligent­ly ur­ge pe­op­le to obey the Sup­re­me Co­urt’s de­cisi­on of 1954 out­la­wing seg­re­gati­on in the pub­lic scho­ols, at first glan­ce it may se­em rat­her pa­rado­xical for us cons­ci­ous­ly to bre­ak laws. One may won ask: «How can you ad­vo­cate bre­aking so­me laws and obe­ying ot­hers?» The ans­wer li­es in the fact that the­re fi­re two ty­pes of laws: just and un­just. I wo­uld be the Brat to ad­vo­cate obe­ying just laws. One has not on­ly a le­gal but a mo­ral res­ponsi­bili­ty to obey just laws. Con­verse­ly, one has a mo­ral res­ponsi­bili­ty to di­sobey un­just laws. I wo­uld ag­ree with St. Augus­ti­ne that «an un­just law is no law at all»
Now, what is the dif­fe­ren­ce bet­we­en the two? How do­es one de­ter­mi­ne whet­her a law is just or un­just? 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. To put it in the terms of St. Tho­mas Aqui­nas: An un­just law is a hu­man law that is not ro­oted in eter­nal law and na­tural law. Any law that up­lifts hu­man per­so­nali­ty is just. Any law that deg­ra­des hu­man per­so­nali­ty is un­just. All seg­re­gati­on sta­tutes are un­just be­ca­use seg­re­gati­on dis­tort the so­ul and da­mages the per­so­nali­ty. It gi­ves the seg­re­gator a fal­se sen­se of su­peri­ori­ty and the seg­re­gated a fal­se sen­se of in­fe­ri­ori­ty. Seg­re­gati­on, to use the ter­mi­nolo­gy of the Je­wish phi­losop­her Mar­tin Bu­ber, subs­ti­tutes an «I-it» re­lati­ons­hip for an «I-thou» re­lati­ons­hip and ends up re­lega­ting per­sons to the sta­tus of things. Hen­ce seg­re­gati­on is not on­ly po­liti­cal­ly, eco­nomi­cal­ly and so­ci­olo­gical­ly un­so­und, it is mo­ral­ly wrong and aw­ful. Pa­ul Til­lich sa­id that sin is se­para­ti­on. Is not seg­re­gati­on an exis­tenti­al exp­res­si­on ’of man’s tra­gic se­para­ti­on, his aw­ful est­ran­ge­ment, his ter­rible sin­fulness? Thus it is that I can ur­ge men to obey the 1954 de­cisi­on of the Sup­re­me Co­urt, for it is mo­ral­ly right; and I can ur­ge them to di­sobey seg­re­gati­on or­di­nan­ces, for they are mo­ral­ly wrong.
Let us con­si­der a mo­re conc­re­te examp­le of just and un­just laws. An un­just law is a co­de that a nu­meri­cal or po­wer ma­jori­ty gro­up com­pels a mi­nori­ty gro­up to obey but do­es not ma­ke bin­ding on it­self. This is dif­fe­ren­ce ma­de le­gal. By the sa­me to­ken, a just law is a co­de that a ma­jori­ty com­pels a mi­nori­ty to fol­low and that it is wil­ling to fol­low it­self. This is sa­meness ma­de le­gal.
Let me gi­ve anot­her exp­la­nati­on. A law is un­just if it is inf­lic­ted on a mi­nori­ty that, as a re­sult of be­ing de­ni­ed the right to vo­te, had no part in enac­ting or de­vising the law. Who can say that the le­gis­la­ture of Ala­bama which set up that sta­te’s seg­re­gati­on laws was de­moc­ra­tical­ly elec­ted? Thro­ug­ho­ut Ala­bama all sorts of de­vi­ous met­hods are used to pre­vent Neg­ro­es from be­coming re­gis­te­red vo­ters, and the­re are so­me co­un­ti­es in which, even tho­ugh Neg­ro­es cons­ti­tute a ma­jori­ty of the po­pula­ti­on, not a sing­le Neg­ro is re­gis­te­red. Can any law enac­ted un­der such cir­cums­tan­ces be con­si­dered de­moc­ra­tical­ly struc­tu­red?
So­meti­mes a law is just on its fa­ce and un­just in its app­li­cati­on. For ins­tan­ce, I ha­ve be­en ar­rested on a char­ge of pa­rading wit­ho­ut a per­mit. Now, the­re is not­hing wrong in ha­ving an or­di­nan­ce which re­qu­ires a per­mit for a pa­rade. But such an or­di­nan­ce be­comes un­just when it is used to ma­in­ta­in seg­re­gati­on and to de­ny ci­tizens the First Amend­ment pri­vile­ge of pe­ace­ful as­semb­ly and pro­test.
I ho­pe you are ab­le to ace the dis­tinc­ti­on I am try­ing to po­int out. In no sen­se do I ad­vo­cate eva­ding or de­fy­ing the law, as wo­uld the ra­bid seg­re­gati­onist. That wo­uld le­ad to anarc­hy. One who bre­aks an un­just law must do so open­ly, lo­ving­ly, and with a wil­ling­ness to ac­cept the pe­nal­ty. I sub­mit that an in­di­vidu­al who bre­aks a law that cons­ci­en­ce tells him is un­just and who wil­ling­ly ac­cepts the pe­nal­ty of imp­ri­son­ment in or­der to aro­use the cons­ci­en­ce of the com­mu­nity over its in­justi­ce, is in re­ali­ty exp­res­sing the hig­hest res­pect for law.
Of co­ur­se, the­re is not­hing new abo­ut this kind of ci­vil di­sobe­di­en­ce. It was evi­den­ced sub­li­mely in the re­fusal of Shad­rach, Me­shach and Abed­ne­go to obey the laws of Ne­buc­hadnez­zar, on the gro­und that a hig­her mo­ral law was at sta­ke. It was prac­ti­ced su­perb­ly by the ear­ly Chris­ti­ans, who we­re wil­ling to fa­ce hung­ry li­ons and the exc­ru­ci­ating pa­in of chop­ping blocks rat­her than sub­mit to cer­ta­in un­just laws of the Ro­man Em­pi­re. To a deg­ree, aca­demic fre­edom is a re­ali­ty to­day be­ca­use Soc­ra­tes prac­ti­ced ci­vil di­sobe­di­en­ce. In our own na­ti­on, the Bos­ton Tea Par­ty rep­re­sen­ted a mas­si­ve act of ci­vil di­sobe­di­en­ce.
We sho­uld ne­ver for­get that eve­ryt­hing Adolf Hit­ler did in Ger­ma­ny was «le­gal» and eve­ryt­hing the Hun­ga­ri­an fre­edom figh­ters did in Hun­ga­ry was «il­le­gal.» It was «il­le­gal» to aid and com­fort a Jew in Hit­ler’s Ger­ma­ny. Even so, I am su­re that, had I li­ved in Ger­ma­ny at the ti­me, I wo­uld ha­ve aided and com­forted my Je­wish brot­hers. If to­day I li­ved in a Com­mu­nist co­unt­ry whe­re cer­ta­in prin­ciples de­ar to the Chris­ti­an fa­ith are supp­res­sed, I wo­uld open­ly ad­vo­cate di­sobe­ying that co­unt­ry’s an­ti­reli­gi­ous laws.
I must ma­ke two ho­nest con­fessi­ons to you, my Chris­ti­an and Je­wish brot­hers. First, I must con­fess that over the past few years I ha­ve be­en gra­vely di­sap­po­in­ted with the whi­te mo­dera­te. I ha­ve al­most re­ac­hed the reg­rettab­le conc­lu­si­on that the Neg­ro’s gre­at stumb­ling block in his stri­de to­ward fre­edom is not the Whi­te Ci­tizen’s Co­un­ci­ler or the Ku Klux Klan­ner, but the whi­te mo­dera­te, who is mo­re de­voted to «or­der» than to jus­ti­ce; who pre­fers a ne­gati­ve pe­ace which is the ab­sence of ten­si­on to a po­siti­ve pe­ace which is the pre­sen­ce of jus­ti­ce; who cons­tan­tly sa­ys: «I ag­ree with you in the go­al you se­ek, but I can­not ag­ree with your met­hods of di­rect ac­ti­on»; who pa­ter­na­lis­ti­cal­ly be­li­eves he can set the ti­metab­le for anot­her man’s fre­edom; who li­ves by a myt­hi­cal con­cept of ti­me and who cons­tan­tly ad­vi­ses the Neg­ro to wa­it for a «mo­re con­ve­ni­ent se­ason.» Shal­low un­ders­tan­ding from pe­op­le of go­od will is mo­re frust­ra­ting than ab­so­lute mi­sun­ders­tan­ding from pe­op­le of ill will. Lu­kewarm ac­ceptan­ce is much mo­re be­wil­de­ring than out­right re­jec­ti­on.
I had ho­ped that the whi­te mo­dera­te wo­uld un­ders­tand that law and or­der exist for the pur­po­se of es­tabli­shing jus­ti­ce and that when they fan in this pur­po­se they be­come the dan­ge­ro­us­ly struc­tu­red dams that block the flow of so­ci­al prog­ress. I had ho­ped that the whi­te mo­dera­te wo­uld un­ders­tand that the pre­sent ten­si­on in the So­uth is a ne­ces­sa­ry pha­se of the tran­si­ti­on from an ob­no­xi­ous ne­gati­ve pe­ace, in which the Neg­ro pas­si­vely ac­cepted his un­just plight, to a subs­tan­ti­ve and po­siti­ve pe­ace, in which all men will res­pect the dig­ni­ty and worth of hu­man per­so­nali­ty. Ac­tu­al­ly, we who en­ga­ge in non­vi­olent di­rect ac­ti­on are not the cre­ators of ten­si­on. We me­rely bring to the sur­fa­ce the hid­den ten­si­on that is al­re­ady ali­ve. We bring it out in the open, whe­re it can be se­en and de­alt with. Li­ke a bo­il that can ne­ver be cu­red so long as it is co­vered up but must be ope­ned with an its ug­li­ness to the na­tural me­dici­nes of air and light, in­justi­ce must be ex­po­sed, with all the ten­si­on its ex­po­sure cre­ates, to the light of hu­man cons­ci­en­ce and the air of na­ti­onal opi­ni­on be­fore it can be cu­red.
In your sta­tement you as­sert that our ac­ti­ons, even tho­ugh pe­ace­ful, must be con­demned be­ca­use they pre­cipi­tate vi­olen­ce. But is this a lo­gical as­serti­on? Isn’t this li­ke con­demning a rob­bed man be­ca­use his pos­sessi­on of mo­ney pre­cipi­tated the evil act of rob­be­ry? Isn’t this li­ke con­demning Soc­ra­tes be­ca­use his uns­wer­ving com­mitment to truth and his phi­losop­hi­cal in­qui­ri­es pre­cipi­tated the act by the mis­gu­ided po­pula­ce in which they ma­de him drink hem­lock? Isn’t this li­ke con­demning Je­sus be­ca­use his uni­que God-cons­ci­ous­ness and ne­ver-ce­asing de­voti­on to God’s will pre­cipi­tated the evil act of cru­cifi­xi­on? We must co­me to see that, as the fe­deral co­urts ha­ve con­sistent­ly af­firmed, it is wrong to ur­ge an in­di­vidu­al to ce­ase his ef­forts to ga­in his ba­sic cons­ti­tuti­onal rights be­ca­use the qu­est may pre­cipi­tate vi­olen­ce. So­ci­ety must pro­tect the rob­bed and pu­nish the rob­ber.
I had al­so ho­ped that the whi­te mo­dera­te wo­uld re­ject the myth con­cerning ti­me in re­lati­on to the strugg­le for fre­edom. I ha­ve just re­ce­ived a let­ter from a whi­te brot­her in Te­xas. He wri­tes: «Any Chris­ti­ans know that the co­lored pe­op­le will re­ce­ive equ­al rights even­tu­al­ly, but it is pos­sible that you are in too gre­at a re­ligi­ous hur­ry. It has ta­ken Chris­ti­ani­ty al­most two tho­usand years to ac­comp­lish what it has. The te­ac­hings of Christ ta­ke ti­me to co­me to earth.» Such an at­ti­tude stems from a tra­gic mis­concep­ti­on of ti­me, from the stran­ge­ly ra­ti­onal no­ti­on that the­re is so­met­hing in the ve­ry flow of ti­me that will ine­vitab­ly cu­re all ills. Ac­tu­al­ly, ti­me it­self is ne­ut­ral; it can be used eit­her dest­ruc­ti­vely or cons­truc­ti­vely. Mo­re and mo­re I fe­el that the pe­op­le of ill will ha­ve used ti­me much mo­re ef­fecti­vely than ha­ve the pe­op­le of go­od will. We will ha­ve to re­pent in this ge­nera­ti­on not me­rely for the ha­teful words and ac­ti­ons of the bad pe­op­le but for the ap­palling si­len­ce of the go­od pe­op­le. Hu­man prog­ress ne­ver rolls in on whe­els of ine­vita­bili­ty; it co­mes thro­ugh the ti­reless ef­forts of men wil­ling to be co-wor­kers with God, and wit­ho­ut this ’hard work, ti­me it­self be­comes an al­ly of the for­ces of so­ci­al stag­na­ti­on. We must use ti­me cre­ati­vely, in the know­ledge that the ti­me is al­wa­ys ri­pe to do right. Now is the ti­me to ma­ke re­al the pro­mise of de­moc­ra­cy and trans­form our pen­ding na­ti­onal ele­gy in­to a cre­ati­ve psalm of brot­herho­od. Now is the ti­me to lift our na­ti­onal po­licy from the qu­ick­sand of ra­ci­al in­justi­ce to 6e so­lid rock of hu­man dig­ni­ty.
You spe­ak of our ac­ti­vity in Bir­ming­ham as ext­re­me. At fist I was rat­her di­sap­po­in­ted that fel­low cler­gy­men wo­uld see my non­vi­olent ef­forts as tho­se of an ext­re­mist. I be­gan thin­king abo­ut the fact that stand in the midd­le of two op­po­sing for­ces in the Neg­ro com­mu­nity. One is a for­ce of comp­la­cen­cy, ma­de up in part of Neg­ro­es who, as a re­sult of long years of opp­res­si­on, are so dra­ined of self-res­pect and a sen­se of «so­mebo­diness» that they ha­ve ad­justed to seg­re­gati­on; and in part of a few midd­le class Neg­ro­es who, be­ca­use of a deg­ree of aca­demic and eco­nomic se­curi­ty and be­ca­use in so­me wa­ys they pro­fit by seg­re­gati­on, ha­ve be­come in­sensi­tive to the prob­lems of the mas­ses. The ot­her for­ce is one of bit­terness and hat­red, and it co­mes pe­rilo­us­ly clo­se to ad­vo­cating vi­olen­ce. It is exp­res­sed in the va­ri­ous black na­ti­ona­list gro­ups that are sprin­ging up ac­ross the na­ti­on, the lar­gest and best-known be­ing Eli­jah Mu­ham­mad’s Mus­lim mo­vement. No­uri­shed by the Neg­ro’s frust­ra­ti­on over the con­ti­nu­ed exis­tence of ra­ci­al disc­ri­mina­ti­on, this mo­vement is ma­de up of pe­op­le who ha­ve lost fa­ith in Ame­rica, who ha­ve ab­so­lute­ly re­pudi­ated Chris­ti­ani­ty, and who ha­ve conc­lu­ded that the whi­te man is an in­corri­gib­le «de­vil.»
I ha­ve tri­ed to stand bet­we­en the­se two for­ces, sa­ying that we ne­ed emu­late ne­it­her the «do-not­hingism» of the comp­la­cent nor the hat­red and des­pa­ir of the black na­ti­ona­list. For the­re is the mo­re ex­cellent way of lo­ve and non­vi­olent pro­test. I am gra­teful to God that, thro­ugh the inf­lu­en­ce of the Neg­ro church, the way of non­vi­olen­ce be­came an in­tegral part of our strugg­le.
If this phi­losop­hy had not emer­ged, by now ma­ny stre­ets of the So­uth wo­uld, I am con­vinced, be flo­wing with blo­od. And I am furt­her con­vinced that if our whi­te brot­hers dis­miss as «rabb­le-ro­users» and «out­si­de agi­tators» tho­se of us who emp­loy non­vi­olent di­rect ac­ti­on, and if they re­fuse to sup­port our non­vi­olent ef­forts, mil­li­ons of Neg­ro­es will, out of frust­ra­ti­on and des­pa­ir, se­ek so­lace and se­curi­ty in black-na­ti­ona­list ide­olo­gi­es a de­velop­ment that wo­uld ine­vitab­ly le­ad to a frigh­te­ning ra­ci­al nigh­tma­re.
Opp­res­sed pe­op­le can­not re­ma­in opp­res­sed fo­rever. The year­ning for fre­edom even­tu­al­ly ma­nifests it­self, and that is what has hap­pe­ned to the Ame­rican Neg­ro. So­met­hing wit­hin has re­min­ded him of his birt­hright of fre­edom, and so­met­hing wit­ho­ut has re­min­ded him that it can be ga­ined. Cons­ci­ous­ly or un­cons­ci­ous­ly, he has be­en ca­ught up by the Ze­it­ge­ist, and with his black brot­hers of Af­ri­ca and his brown and yel­low brot­hers of Asia, So­uth Ame­rica and the Ca­rib­be­an, the Uni­ted Sta­tes Neg­ro is mo­ving with a sen­se of gre­at ur­gency to­ward the pro­mised land of ra­ci­al jus­ti­ce. If one re­cog­ni­zes this vi­tal ur­ge that has en­gulfed the Neg­ro com­mu­nity, one sho­uld re­adi­ly un­ders­tand why pub­lic de­mons­tra­ti­ons are ta­king pla­ce. The Neg­ro has ma­ny pent-up re­sent­ments and la­tent frust­ra­ti­ons, and he must re­le­ase them. So let him march; let him ma­ke pra­yer pilg­ri­mages to the ci­ty hall; let him go on fre­edom ri­des-and try to un­ders­tand why he must do so. If his rep­ressed emo­ti­ons are not re­le­ased in non­vi­olent wa­ys, they will se­ek exp­res­si­on thro­ugh vi­olen­ce; this is not a thre­at but a fact of his­to­ry. So I ha­ve not sa­id to my pe­op­le: «Get rid of your dis­content.» Rat­her, I ha­ve tri­ed to say that this nor­mal and he­alt­hy dis­content can be chan­ne­led in­to the cre­ati­ve out­let of non­vi­olent di­rect ac­ti­on. And now this app­ro­ach is be­ing ter­med ext­re­mist.
But tho­ugh I was ini­ti­al­ly di­sap­po­in­ted at be­ing ca­tego­rized as an ext­re­mist, as I con­ti­nu­ed to think abo­ut the mat­ter I gra­du­al­ly ga­ined a me­asu­re of sa­tis­facti­on from the la­bel. Was not Je­sus an ext­re­mist for lo­ve: «Lo­ve your ene­mi­es, bless them that cur­se you, do go­od to them that ha­te you, and pray for them which des­pi­teful­ly use you, and per­se­cute you.» Was not Amos an ext­re­mist for jus­ti­ce: «Let jus­ti­ce roll down li­ke wa­ters and righ­te­ous­ness li­ke an ever-flo­wing stre­am.» Was not Pa­ul an ext­re­mist for the Chris­ti­an gos­pel: «I be­ar in my bo­dy the marks of the Lord Je­sus.» Was not Mar­tin Lut­her an ext­re­mist: «He­re I stand; I can­not do ot­herwi­se, so help me God.» And John Bu­ny­an: «I will stay in ja­il to the end of my da­ys be­fore I ma­ke a butc­he­ry of my cons­ci­en­ce.» And Ab­ra­ham Lin­coln: «This na­ti­on can­not sur­vi­ve half sla­ve and half free.» And Tho­mas Jef­ferson: "We hold the­se truths to be self-evi­dent, that an men are cre­ated equ­al… " So the qu­es­ti­on is not whet­her we will be ext­re­mists, but what kind of ext­re­mists we will be. Will we be ext­re­mists for ha­te or for lo­ve? Will we be ext­re­mist for the pre­ser­va­ti­on of in­justi­ce or for the ex­tensi­on of jus­ti­ce? In that dra­matic sce­ne on Cal­va­ry’s hill three men we­re cru­cifi­ed. We must ne­ver for­get that all three we­re cru­cifi­ed for the sa­me cri­me---the cri­me of ext­re­mism. Two we­re ext­re­mists for im­mo­rali­ty, and thus fell be­low the­ir en­vi­ron­ment. The ot­her, Je­ans Christ, was an ext­re­mist for lo­ve, truth and go­od­ness, and the­reby ro­se abo­ve his en­vi­ron­ment. Per­haps the So­uth, the na­ti­on and the world are in di­re ne­ed of cre­ati­ve ext­re­mists.
I had ho­ped that the whi­te mo­dera­te wo­uld see this ne­ed. Per­haps I was too op­ti­mis­tic; per­haps I ex­pected too much. I sup­po­se I sho­uld ha­ve re­ali­zed that few mem­bers of the opp­res­sor ra­ce can un­ders­tand the de­ep gro­ans and pas­si­ona­te year­nings of the opp­res­sed ra­ce, and still fe­wer ha­ve the vi­si­on to see that in­justi­ce must be ro­oted out by strong, per­sistent and de­ter­mi­ned ac­ti­on. I am thank­ful, ho­wever, that so­me of our whi­te brot­hers in the So­uth ha­ve gras­ped the me­aning of this so­ci­al re­volu­ti­on and com­mitted them­selves to it. They are still too few in qu­an­ti­ty, but they are big in qua­lity. So­me-such as Ralph McGill, Lil­li­an Smith, Har­ry Gol­den, Ja­mes McBri­de Dabbs, Ann Bra­den and Sa­rah Pat­ton Bo­yle---ha­ve writ­ten abo­ut our strugg­le in elo­qu­ent and prop­he­tic terms. Ot­hers ha­ve marc­hed with us down na­meless stre­ets of the So­uth. They ha­ve lan­gu­is­hed in filt­hy, ro­ach-in­fested ja­ils, suf­fe­ring the abu­se and bru­tali­ty of po­lice­men who vi­ew them as «dir­ty nig­ger lo­vers.» Un­li­ke so ma­ny of the­ir mo­dera­te brot­hers and sis­ters, they ha­ve re­cog­ni­zed the ur­gency of the mo­ment and sen­sed the ne­ed for po­wer­ful «ac­ti­on» an­ti­dotes to com­bat the di­se­ase of seg­re­gati­on.
Let me ta­ke no­te of my ot­her ma­jor di­sap­po­int­ment. I ha­ve be­en so gre­at­ly di­sap­po­in­ted with the whi­te church and its le­aders­hip. Of co­ur­se, the­re are so­me no­tab­le ex­cepti­ons. I am not un­mind­ful of the fact that each of you has ta­ken so­me sig­ni­ficant stands on this is­sue… But des­pi­te the­se no­tab­le ex­cepti­ons, I must ho­nest­ly re­ite­rate that I ha­ve be­en di­sap­po­in­ted with the church. I do not say this as one of tho­se ne­gati­ve cri­tics who can al­wa­ys find so­met­hing wrong with the church. I say this as a mi­nis­ter of the gos­pel, who lo­ves the church; who was nur­tu­red in its bo­som; who ’has be­en sus­ta­ined by its spi­ritu­al bles­sings and who will re­ma­in true to it as long as the cord of Rio shall leng­then.

….. I ha­ve he­ard nu­mero­us so­ut­hern re­ligi­ous le­aders ad­mo­nish the­ir wors­hi­pers to comp­ly with a de­seg­re­gati­on de­cisi­on be­ca­use it is the law, but I ha­ve lon­ged to he­ar whi­te mi­nis­ters dec­la­re: «Fol­low this dec­ree be­ca­use in­tegra­ti­on is mo­ral­ly right and be­ca­use the Neg­ro is your brot­her.» In the midst of bla­tant in­justi­ces inf­lic­ted upon the Neg­ro, I ha­ve watc­hed whi­te churc­hmen stand on the si­deli­ne and mo­uth pi­ous ir­re­levan­ci­es and sanc­ti­moni­ous tri­vi­ali­ti­es. In the midst of a migh­ty strugg­le to rid our na­ti­on of ra­ci­al and eco­nomic in­justi­ce, I ha­ve he­ard ma­ny mi­nis­ters say: «Tho­se are so­ci­al is­su­es, with which the gos­pel has no re­al con­cern.» And I ha­ve watc­hed ma­ny churc­hes com­mit them­selves to a comp­le­tely ot­her worl­dly re­ligi­on which ma­kes a stran­ge, on Bib­li­cal dis­tinc­ti­on bet­we­en bo­dy and so­ul, bet­we­en the sac­red and the se­cular.

….. I ho­pe the church as a who­le will me­et the chal­lenge of this de­cisi­ve ho­ur. But even if the church do­es not co­me to the aid of jus­ti­ce, I ha­ve no des­pa­ir abo­ut the fu­ture. I ha­ve no fe­ar abo­ut the out­co­me of our strugg­le in Bir­ming­ham, even if our mo­tives are at pre­sent mi­sun­ders­to­od. We will re­ach the go­al of fre­edom in Bir­ming­ham, ham and all over the na­ti­on, be­ca­use the go­al of Ame­rica k fre­edom. Abu­sed and scor­ned tho­ugh we may be, our des­ti­ny is ti­ed up with Ame­rica’s des­ti­ny. Be­fore the pilg­rims lan­ded at Ply­mo­uth, we we­re he­re. Be­fore the pen of Jef­ferson etc­hed the ma­jes­tic words of the Dec­la­rati­on of In­de­pen­dence ac­ross the pa­ges of his­to­ry, we we­re he­re. For mo­re than two cen­tu­ri­es our fo­rebe­ars la­bored in this co­unt­ry wit­ho­ut wa­ges; they ma­de cot­ton king; they bu­ilt the ho­mes of the­ir mas­ters whi­le suf­fe­ring gross in­justi­ce and sha­meful hu­mili­ation-and yet out of a bot­tomless vi­tali­ty they con­ti­nu­ed to thri­ve and de­velop. If the inexp­res­sible cru­el­ti­es of sla­very co­uld not stop us, the op­po­siti­on we now fa­ce will su­rely fa­il. We will win our fre­edom be­ca­use the sac­red he­rita­ge of our na­ti­on and the eter­nal will of God are em­bo­di­ed in our ec­ho­ing de­mands.

….. 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.
I ho­pe this let­ter finds you strong in the fa­ith. I al­so ho­pe that cir­cums­tan­ces will so­on ma­ke it pos­sible for me to me­et each of you, not as an in­tegra­ti­onist or a ci­vil rights le­ader but as a fel­low cler­gy­man and a Chris­ti­an brot­her. Let us all ho­pe that the dark clo­uds of ra­ci­al pre­judi­ce will so­on pass away and the de­ep fog of mi­sun­ders­tan­ding will be lif­ted from our fe­ar-drenc­hed com­mu­niti­es, and in so­me not too dis­tant to­mor­row the ra­di­ant stars of lo­ve and brot­herho­od will shi­ne over our gre­at na­ti­on with all the­ir scin­tilla­ting be­auty.

Yours for the ca­use of Pe­ace and Brot­herho­od,
Mar­tin Lut­her King, Jr

Ap­ril 16, 1963