King’s Letter

FRQ #1, Concept Application.


Read the following passage and answer the prompt that follows.

“Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court’s decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, it is rather strange and paradoxical to find us consciously breaking laws. One may well ask, ‘How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?’ The answer is found in the fact that there are two types of laws: there are just laws, and there are unjust laws . . . Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality.

—Martin Luther King, Letter from Birmingham Jail, August 1, 1963


(A) Describe the type of law the author willingly and publicly violated.

(B) In the context of this letter, explain how the author and groups seeking to change the law did change the law.

(C) Explain how another institution of government shapes policy around this issue.