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Martin Luther King Jr. and Frederick Douglass


Submitted By kevan1980
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Martin Luther King Jr. and Frederick Douglass Augmentive essay

When comparing two essays, there are many different aspects that the reader can look at to make judgments and opinions. In the two essays that I choose, MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. 'Letter from Birmingham Jail', and FREDERICK DOUGLAS'S 'From Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave,' there were many similarities, but also many differences. Some of them being, the context, style, structure and tone. Many times when readings or articles are being compared, people over look the grammatical and structural elements, and just concentrate on the issues at hand. I believe it is important to evaluate both.

Both readings are about African American Men who are being discriminated against. Frederick Douglass was born 1817 and died 1895. His story is about his journey as a slave in Maryland. When Douglass was put into slavery, he was with a mistress who had never owned a slave before, so it was all very new to her. Mrs. Hugh Auld helped teach Douglass how to read and write, but her husband found out and told her that she should not, for it was dangerous and unlawful (125). Although Mrs. Hugh Auld stopped teaching Douglass, he knew enough to start his own education and eventually that lead him to freedom. Through all of Douglass?s teachings, he realized that slavery had a negative effect on him. Although his education was obviously good for him, he had his doubts. Before he was naive to all that was going on around him and what he was involved in. He obviously knew that he did not want to be a slave, but he did not know all of the information around and involving it. As his education grew, so did his anger and resentment for this world that he was forced to live, and that is why he wanted to do something about it.

Martin Luther Kings story is quite different but has the same core point. That slaves and African Americans were treated inhumane and deserved the same rights as those of White Americans race did. Martin Luther King was born 1929 and lived to be 1968. While it was said that Frederick Douglass was said to be the first African American to become a National figure and to have influence with the government, Martin Luther Kings Jr. Was supposedly the most influential civil rights leader in America for a period of more than fifteen years (179). Martin Luther Kings did demonstrations and sit ins hoping to rise opportunities for African Americans. He would try to change the laws prohibiting African Americans from sitting on the buses or using certain water fountains. In the letter, Mr. King is writing in response to a criticism that he received. He is writing about why he is jail, which is due to the fact that he was in a sit in and was arrested with other members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The essay hits many of the points about sit ins and whether or not people believe his way is the right way to solve problems such as these.

Martin Luther King Jr. and Frederick Douglass both were African Americans who were faced with the facts of slavery and the injustice of it all. The difference between the two of them is the fact that one of them and the power and ?freedom? to go out and do something about what they believe is the right way. Mr. Douglass had the knowledge of slavery and he knew it was wrong, but he was unable to do anything physically about it. After working once he escaped, he was finally able to open up a newspaper called the Abolitionist which was published in Rochester New York. King has a more powerful standpoint. He was an ordained minister with a doctorate in the theology from Boston University. Although he did not have much power since he was black, he was certainly looked up upon in a higher up manner than those who were black and considered property. Both men had views and knowledge; they were just in different positions in which they were able to use their heads.

One main difference in this paper is that Douglass is discussing not only his beliefs but also his feelings. Through out the whole reading, he is giving us what he was feeling at that certain point when an event was going on. Whereas, in King?s letter, he is describing what he did and why he did it. He gives us facts and beliefs, but does not describe his innermost feelings in the excerpt.

Martin Luther Kings piece is very descriptive. Obviously since it is addressed to the clergy members, it is stating King?s point of view and then trying to give facts so the members of the clergy see things in kings eyes. He tries to sway the reader?s point of view, which makes the piece somewhat similar to a persuasive essay. Throughout the letter, King brings up points or events and then describes them in detail with support and conclusions. ?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 all of these steps in Birmingham? (183 king). This piece shows the examples that he puts out there for the reader to view. This shows that he sets up his views so it is based on a common knowledge or a fact. That way it is looked at with credibility, or it makes one think about what they are reading. Douglass?s reading is in a clear concise manner. He is giving you a view of his life, and sharing his feelings so it is not as though you have to sort out facts and try to understand what perspective he is trying to get at. He comes straight out and lets you know what he is writing about, feeling or thinking. His style is very direct which helps the reader understand and makes it easier to read. The fact that the events are in chronological order also help the reader follow the story, which actually is an advantage to douglass because that way, he is better understood. The sentences tend to run on a bit, but there is a lot of description filled with feelings and emotions, which are balanced to make the sentences and points run in a coherent manner. Unlike many older pieces of literature, I found that both of these readings were very straight to the point and enjoyable to read because the reader did not have to look deep into the reading in order to understand what the reading consisted of and any messages the authors tried to get across to the reader.

From reading both of these readings and comparing them it is surprising how different one can be, yet so similar. Both people are the same nationality and believe in the same things, but go about them in different manners. It is neat to see the objectives of the situations and view the styles similarities and differences as well. Looking through the book one may say ?well, both stories are about African Americans who are looking to have more rights in America, so they must be pretty similar?, but it is amazing all of the different aspects one belief can have and all the different solutions all different kinds of people can come up with. An example of this is how the two men use their energy and knowledge. King uses his knowledge by gathering people with the same beliefs, to try to better the situations they were in. Douglass did not use his knowledge to the degree that was possible. He absorbed more knowledge instead of releasing it. So although the two readings look fairly similar when glanced over, there are many different aspects of both papers, that give them capability to give out knowledge and background on a subject that was very important to the authors.

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