Douglass And King: Advice They Might Have Accepted From Thoreau

775 words - 3 pages

Though Henry David Thoreau lived more than one hundred years before the time of Martin Luther King Jr., his philosophy lingered in the minds of many individuals. Thoreau was opposed to injustice in general and refused to support or to follow the unjust laws. His idealism and anarchism influenced the thinking of King. Douglass' narrative shows how his thinking would have been similar to that of Thoreau's.

Douglass' descriptions of the cruelty lived by African Americans are filled with horrific details that would touch anyone. He believed that slavery was not only dehumanizing for the slaves, but for the slaveholders as well. Douglass uses as an example the case of Mrs. Sophia Auld. Before she became a slaveholder, she was known to be pure, kind, and generous. Her way of being changed once she became a slaveholder. Douglass witnessed himself acts of cruel brutality against one of his relatives. He educated himself by learning from others in forms of trickery since he had no other options at the time. I believe this would have been an advice Thoreau would have given Douglass.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. received a Nobel Prize and was honored by the President of the United States for his contributions to society. On the other hand, he was prosecuted, convicted, incarcerated, and had his sentence had to be reaffirmed by the Supreme Court. It is hard to understand why he was incarcerated if what he did was noble. When we take into account these manifestations of the government's attitude towards Martin Luther King, we can safely make the assumption that the government is not always justified in the laws that it creates. Our government's original purpose was to keep order and ensure freedom to its people.

As history has shown us, as in the case of African Americans, the government will expand its role and take away liberties of the few. The individual is justified in acting out in civil disobedience when the government restricts the liberties of the individual. In the Declaration of Independence, our forefathers were going against British laws. It was considered an act of treason for them to separate from Britain and to create a newly formed government for America. Man is selfish by...

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