Table 19: King’s Discussion of Just Law and Unjust Law in Table Form (continued)

Below is a table that falls under the comment “Analysis.”

You may access the comment by clicking on the “Analysis (Glossary Comment)” and “Case Studies” categories or by typing “Squaring the Author’s Text Within Your Analysis” into the search box. King’s work is subject to U.S. copyright law and is displayed here for educational purposes.

You may print the excerpt for class discussions.

Table 19:  King’s Discussion of Just Law and Unjust Law in Table Form (continued)

 Just Law  Unjust Law
“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.”
“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.”

Homework Activity

Table 19 highlights gaps that exist within King’s discussion.

Using Table 18: King’s Discussion of Just Law and Unjust Law in Table Form, you developed an analysis by first constructing sentences on each row that best reflect King’s ideas and goals for the work. You also proposed a structure for the analysis by grouping sentences similar in meaning together. Last, you created and developed an analysis by adding topic sentences and supporting evidence.

For Table 19, you will insert historical context and critical views.

1) Evaluate the paragraphs you created during group activity.

2) Determine the primary purpose of each paragraph.

3) Research historical information. King wrote “Letter from Birmingham Jail” on April 16, 1963, in Birmingham, Alabama.

  • Therefore, research the year “1963.”
  • Research all of the events leading up to April 16th and after this date.
  • Research the literary criticism. What were the schools of thought? What did scholars have to say about King’s letter?
  • Research governing statutes of Alabama and local laws of Birmingham.
  • Place the information into categories to prepare sections of your analysis.

4) Evaluate Table 19 again. Determine if you can place some of the researched information into one or more of the boxes within the table. Reevaluate your analysis structure.

5) Insert quotes from King’s letter, historical context, literary criticism, and statute information within the appropriate sections of your analysis.

6) Revise the analysis you wrote for Table 18. Revise topic sentences. Revise quotes used for supporting evidence. Revise follow-up explanations, evaluations, and last-sentence transition statements. You may use one of the Analysis Methods as a guide.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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