Social Movements Equality and Opportunity 1945-1975 Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Social Philosophy of Martin Luther King Jr.

Like most modern day nations, the United States has been heavily influenced by the social philosophies of past leaders. Our nation's founders (Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, etc.) espoused the ideas of democracy and civil liberty, and their philosophy led to the free nation we live in today. The likes of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas believed in freedom for all, and their philosophy gave way to the end of slavery. Similarly, Martin Luther King Jr. believed in the equality of man, civil rights, and most importantly, peaceful means in achieving those ends. For the purposes of this paper, I will evaluate King's values, his rational, and his means of achieving his objectives using two pieces of documentation -- a letter written to fellow ministers from a Birmingham, Al. Jail, and a speech given to striking workers entitled, "I've Been to the Mountaintop." In this evaluation, I also intend to relate King's ideals to the modern day issue of abortion in the United States.

Arguably, there is no issue more heatedly contested in this country than that of the right to abort a fetus. Several decades ago, in a famous court case called Roe v Wade, the Supreme Court declared the right of women to abort fetuses. The decision sent the nation into a pro-life, pro-choice tailspin, and such has been the case ever since. The fervor in which opponents and proponents attack each other's positions has been astonishing -- almost to the same degree in which civil rights activists approached their beliefs.

Like the civil rights movement, the pro-life movement has been subject to bitter opposition-often resulting in violence. Abortion clinics have been bombed, doctors have been murdered, and violent protests have been staged. Also similar to the civil rights movement is the issue at stake. Pro-life and pro-choice supporters are at a fundamental disagreement over civil rights, specifically, whether or not a fetus is deserving of the rights and liberties granted by our country's Constitution, or, whether it is the woman's right to abort the life inside her body.

In approaching this issue through King's social philosophy, we first need to analyze his work. In his letter from a Birmingham Jail, King placates fellow civil rights leaders by explaining his actions, and why they were necessary for the overall good of the cause. King emphasizes the stubbornness of the local government, and their unwillingness to grant rights and liberties to African-Americans despite the fact they are specifically enumerated in the Constitution. King writes, "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" (King 1963). King is espousing the rights of his fellow African-Americans, and his motivations are reflected in those of both the pro-life…

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited

King Jr., Martin Luther. 1963. "Letter From Birmingham Jail." Almaz Website.

King Jr., Martin Luther. 1968. "I've Been to the Mountaintop."

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"Social Movements Equality And Opportunity 1945-1975" (2003, November 26) Retrieved December 10, 2019, from

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