RFI Executive Vice President Eric Patterson recently wrote an article in The Christian Post reflecting on what Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail might say to us us in our current moment. In light of the protests and riots across the country, Patterson offers a response to the recurring questions asked by many today: “Who can we turn to for unity? Or, What national voices are left who can speak across divides?”
Perhaps we all need to be reintroduced to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s potent “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” (1963). It is a sublime statement against injustice. It is also a challenge to not allow hatred to take root in our hearts…He then outlines the thoughtful, four-step process of his non-violent campaign.
The four-step process outlined in the letter — careful collection of facts, negotiation before confrontation, self-purification, and nonviolent direct action — can serve as guiding principles during this time of national upheaval and in the campaign for justice.
As Patterson outlines, the letter deals with issues of righteous anger, the nature of just and unjust laws, and identifying the motives behind human actions. Patterson concludes that King’s voice is as important today as ever: “Listen to an American patriot. There is a time for sorrow, there is a time for righteous indignation, and there is a time for action. Today, this day, let’s listen to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., confess our sins, guard our hearts against hate, and resolve to work for justice.”