Outline Alabama clergymen letter to MLK, Jr.

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the 1964 Civ...

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the 1964 Civil Rights Act as Martin Luther King, Jr., and others, look on. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(Logic) English 2 – Critical Thinking and Writing (Spring 2007)

Outline Alabama clergymen letter to MLK, Jr. (printed April 12, 1963)

[Students and professors, please read.]

Outline of “Statement by Alabama Clergymen” argument.

The issue:  Should public civil rights demonstrations should continue?

Speakers’ position:  The demonstrations should stop and the issue of civil rights should be pursued in negotiation amongst local leaders and/or in the courts.

*Outline does not necessarily follow the order in which the letter was written.

I.  Background:  The clergymen are among those who authored “An Appeal for Law and Order and Common Sense” which dealt with racial problems in Alabama.  (Specific problems not mentioned.)


A. “…honest convictions in racial matters could properly be pursued in the courts” (no evidence given that this is successful) and “decisions of those courts should in the meantime be peacefully obeyed,” (no decisions referred to).

Reason One:
II.  That appeal has proven successful. (Statements restate this with no specific names or events referred to.)  Hidden implication:  The demonstrations are unnecessary.

Reason Two:

III. Demonstrations by some African Americans are threatening to hinder the success of that appeal.  Mention is made of “outsiders” influencing the demonstrations.

A.  A better alternative to demonstrations are honest and open negotiations among local leaders.

1.  The negotiations should be limited to local citizens “with their knowledge and experience of the local situation.”

B. “…these demonstrations are unwise and untimely.”

C.  Extreme measures, like this demonstration, which incite to hatred and violence (though they be peaceful) are unethical, unjustified and do not contribute to a             resolution.

Restated Conclusion:

D. “Withdraw support from these demonstrations,” … “unite locally in working peacefully for a better Birmingham,” and pursue the issue “in the courts and in negotiations among local leaders…not in the streets.”

IV. A show of understanding:  “We recognize the natural impatience of people who feel that their hopes are slow in being realized.”

V.  We commend the community (local news media, law enforcement, and the general public) for remaining calm despite these demonstrations, and ask that they continue to do so if these demonstrations should continue.  (Note:  Speakers ask law enforcement to continue protecting city from violence, though demonstrations are peaceful.)

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