Monday, March 17, 2014

Zainab Yaya's Reflection on "A More Perfect Union" and "A Letter from a Birmingham Jail"

As I begin to read President Obama’s “A more Perfect Union” I was immediately intrigued in his comparison of the Civil Rights Movement and one of the task he sat out to accomplish by running for office. I believe that this simple comparison said a lot about Barak Obama before he became President Barak Obama. It showed his pride in who he was and also it showed his dignity and bravery. He stated “ What would be needed were Americans in successive generations who were willing to do their part- through protests and struggle, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience and always at great risk- to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time.” He compared this notion, previously used in the 1800’s, to his task “to continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America”. This evaluation done by President Obama showed that he not only understood and realized what weapons would be thrown against him, but he was ready to fight the fight. In the running of President Obama there was a lot of racism and judgment against him, but as he stated “ In South Carolina, where the Confederate Flag still flies, we built a powerful coalition of African Americans and white Americans”. President Obama knew that he had to appear before the people as more than just a color, and that he did.
This speech by President Obama can very much relate to that of Martin Luther King Jr. While in Birmingham Jail, King wrote a letter to his “Fellow Clergymen”. In this letter King stated his reasons for being so far from home, there in Birmingham, in the first place. He states “I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” In the statement King showed initiative. He was not just fighting a battle of black versus white, he was fighting the battle for Justice. This exact concept is what relates President Obama to Martin Luther King Jr. Both men understood their battle and understood furthermore that these battles were beyond physicality.

Furthermore, there is relation between the two in there idea of choosing their battles. Dr. King stated “Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work.” This showed that King understood that every fight is not worth fighting for. He addressed situations that would make a difference and a statement. This same idea shows in President Barak’s running for candidacy. If President Barak was to stop and address every racial battle that he was confronted with, he would have had no time to run for President of the United States.
From both speeches, I understand that it is a time and place for everything. There will be a million and one battles that will come your way but everyone is not worth fighting.

President Obama: “But Race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now.”
Martin Luther King Jr.: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

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