Why We Couldn’t Wait: Dismantling Misconceptions To Inspire Change.Tatianna A. PerezGlassboro High SchoolAbstractEscalating racial tensions dominated the nation in 1960’s and gave birth to the Civil Rights Movement. Although the nonviolent movement was slowly gaining progress and membership was available to all, Caucasian people were reluctant to join and were not willing to leave their place in complacency. To combat this issue, a revolutionary of the movement, Martin Luther King Jr. penned his novel, Why We Can’t Wait. The goal of the book was to prove the need for social change by revealing the danger of being an African-American in the United States and to convey the oppressive history of segregation. King wanted to clear up any fallacies remaining about segregation and the Civil Rights Movement.Through his captivating rhetoric and shifting diction, King was able to convey the plight of the black man in America King’s ultimate goal was to end segregation by means of the Civil Rights Movement .Why We Can’t Wait: Dismantling Misconceptions surrounding the Civil Rights Movement. Martin Luther King Jr was a revolutionary that brought the Civil Rights Movement to national attention. Christened Michael Luther King Jr on January 15, 1929, King adopted the name Martin in homage to both his late father and the religious leader Martin Luther when he became a co-pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. In his early life, King chased academia. After graduating from a segregated high school in Georgia at the age of fifteen, King earned his bachelor’s of arts degree at Morehouse college in 1948. King then went on to study theology at the Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania, where he became the president of his predominantly white class, earned a fellowship, and graduated with his B.D degree in 1951. King then traveled to Boston University to serve out his residency for a doctoral degree in 1953 and later earned the degree in 1955. It was at this time that King decided to join the national debate around race relations in the United States. King as a member of the executive committee of the NAACP aided in organizing the first nonviolent protest through a bus boycott. This boycott was lasted for 382 days. Subsequently on December 21, 1956. the Supreme Court ruled that interstate segregated buses are unconstitutional. For the duration of the boycott, King was intimidated and harassed, nevertheless, he became a leader for the Civil Rights movement. In 1957, he became the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization that devoted itself to finding leadership for the civil rights movement. King became the most nationally infamous Civil Rights activist. From 1957 to 1968, King traveled throughout the country to offer his aid and guidance,against social injustice; he delivered speeches, and penned five novels. King led the protest in Birmingham, Alabama which garnered attention nationally and globally, it was here that King called for a meeting of consciousness and gathered inspiration for his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”, which called for registering African Americans to vote and the abolishment of the racist reading tests and poll taxes. King also participated in the march on Washington D.C. where he delivered his famous “I have a Dream” speech. He worked with both Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B Johnson.King also campaigned for President Lyndon B. Johnson. The path to equality was not an easy one, King was arrested over twenty times and was assaulted on at least four occasions. For his anguish, King was granted five honorary degrees and received the title of Man of the Year by Time magazine in 1963. His final honor came at the age of thirty five: King became the youngest male to receive a Nobel Peace Prize. MLK donated his prize money to the movement.. King continues to serve as an inspiration for many, from Malcolm X that coined “Ballots or bullets” to the inspiring Freedom Riders that fought to protect the rights of African American bus passengers despite being in the deep south that was deeply entrenched in Jim Crow laws.To fully drive the point home about both the oppressive nature of the segregated South and the need for change, King evokes a sentence structure that is both repetitive and parallel. This allows the audience to fully comprehend the argument he presents in his piece. This structure also allows for the unimpeded flow of the argument. This repetition is completed through the use of rhetorical devices such as analepsis, anaphora, and alliteration. The use of rhetorical devices is supported by the intellectual vocabulary that King uses throughout the piece. Scholastic vocabulary such as fallacious, divisive, and ignorant is used to inspire the readers to action while also naming the people who allowed this harmful system to endure. King dedicates a paragraph to influential black figures such as Booker T. Washington, W.E.B Du Bois, and Marcus Garvey and their impact during their lifetime as well as their influence on the Civil Rights movement. This furthers his argument as presented in Why We Can’t and reinforces his proclamation that the current social progress in this nation was truly not enough and that the present time is the time to change the nation. King also details a chapter on the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, an organization that is devoted to terminating discrimination based on race and protecting the rights of everyone. This allowed King to build Ethos with the audience, as at the time that this novel was penned, King himself was an executive member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. His experience in this organization adds to his credibility and leads the audience to believe that he is truly an expert on the subject of social justice. King’s powerful use of imagery allows the audience to imagine the world of segregation, a better world without it, and the power of an individual. King’s use of contradictory diction highlights the true power of nonviolent resistance. Crisp words such as seized, weapon, victory, dangerous, are juxtaposed against the described peaceful non violent protesters . This powerful yet paradoxical verbiage portrays to the audience that the Civil Rights Movement truly is a war. A war not fought with weapons of mass destruction, but rather a war that is concentrated on the morality of the American people. After a deep read of the material, it became apparent that Why We Can’t Wait was penned for a white audiences to demonstrate the need for social reform through deconstructing misconceptions about both segregation and the Civil Rights Movement. King opens the novel with a dichotomy between an African American boy that lives in Harlem, New York, and an African American girl that lives in Birmingham, Alabama. The boy lives in a city where racial relationships changed from when “Negro Was in Vogue”(Hughes) during the Harlem Renaissance and people were eager to see beyond racial barriers to a city undergoing gentrification or “Negro removal” (Gale). The girl inhabits a state in which the governor proclaims “segregation now…segregation tomorrow…segregation forever!”(Wallace) and racial tensions have escalated to the point where President John F. Kennedy claimed that “the events in Birmingham…have so increased the cries for equality that no city or state or legislative body can prudently choose to ignore them” (PBS). While the two seem to occupy vastly different existences, both share a disadvantaged socioeconomic background and must submit to the oppressing reign of segregation laws. King utilizes this dichotomy to deconstruct the misconceptions about segregation in the North and segregation in the South. The South practices De jure segregation or segregation that is mandated by law. In the South, “black folks have been abused by the white man physically” (Lanaham), The North has de facto segregation. Northern “black folks have been abused by the white power structure mentally” (Lanaham). King proved that segregation in both the North or the South harmed African Americans and that the experiences of African Americans across the nation are similar when it comes to battling segregation. After clarifying the differences between Northern and Southern segregation, King then explains that the fight for social justice is far from over. The Civil War brought about the end of slavery and in its place left the Jim Crow laws. The Jim Crow laws “required the separation of whites from “persons of colour” in public transportation and schools…which was extended to parks, cemeteries, theaters, and restaurants in an effort to prevent any contact between blacks and whites as equal” (Urofsky). These laws dominated the South while the North used De facto segregation and were upheld under the broad term “separate but equal” (Urosky). King details that these demeaning laws existed to “keep the Negro in his place” (W.E.B Dubois). African Americans were far from satisfied with their current social standing but were kept submissive by the threat of jail. King then informs the audience that the threat of jail to keep African Americans submissive will no longer work and the thirst for social justice cannot be stymied. While racial tensions raged on and nonviolent people are being sprayed with fire hoses and met with malicious canines, King directed the movement to stay peaceful and simply head to jail with no resistance. African Americans were simply going to “Fill the Jails”(Gandhi), following the nonviolent strategy that Mahatma Gandhi used to resist British Imperialism. King insists that the practice of tokenism is harmful to the Civil Rights Movement. Tokenism or the elevation of a person who belongs to an underrepresented minority group for the sake of dodging criticism, according to King can be mistaken for equality when it truly is only a facade. King equates tokenism as “a promise to pay”, yet the movement is truly only interested in democracy, and will not be satisfied with anything less than democracy. King acknowledges that progress will not be instantaneous but any improvement is to be celebrated. King’s call to action follows the progress of the movement. King’s contradicting diction serves to both inspire and attack the people who implement the racially oppressive system and those who tolerate and or ignore the racially charged system. King insists that there is no room for complacency amongst the movement. Complacency is not limited to the South, much like segregation, where Louise Day Hicks claimed that she was proud of her city and it’s progressiveness while simultaneously campaigning for schools in Boston to remain segregated. King called for unity for all people, yet one of his biggest obstacles was for Caucasians to emphasize and join the movement instead of lingering in the shadows where anonymity and safety were guaranteed. King was encountering an obstacle that would later be coined as “white privilege.” White privilege stems from the fact that “history had left African Americans on less-than-equal footing with whites, he said, so even treating the two groups equally would keep white people ahead of the game.” (Rothman). Fighting the Jim Crow laws was an uphill battle as it seemed to some that “People who are white want as little to do with black people as they can get away with” (Samuels). The largest battle with the Jim Crow laws was that the segregation did not naturally occur in the South, at that scale but rather “segregation had to be invented” (Samuels). According to Samuels, there was even an “era of experiment and variety in race relations of the South in which segregation was not the invariable rule.” However, this all came to an end once a campaign of white supremacy surfaced. The campaign was meant to solidify Caucasian communities of varying socioeconomic backgrounds against African American communities. The campaign convinced the people that African Americans were inferior to their Caucasian counterparts and the two races should limit contact and be kept separate from one another. The campaign was effective and poor black and white sharecroppers no longer united at the polling booths. The divide only deepened with the onslaught of Jim Crow laws. The very reason King penned this novel could just as easily have become his undoing: attempting to change the minds of people and dually telling them that their way of life is wrong is no easy feat. The Practice of segregation is so inlaid in the culture that changing people’s minds overnight is impossible. King calls for change through nonviolent protest, claiming that if they revolt violently that the movement is no better than the people who are persecuting them. Another advantage of nonviolent protests is that anyone can lend their voice to the movement. King calls for the oppressed people of the nation to unite and protest. This was not simply a fight for African American civil rights, it was a fight for civil rights for all. King’s aspirations for the movement was to collaborate with President Lyndon Johnson. King wished for the success of the Civil Rights Movement and to inspire others around the world to use nonviolent confrontation. If the nonviolent movement spread globally, the next issue to tackle would be to put a halt to the nuclear arms race.The last point that King wants to clarify to his audience is what can be gained by integration. To illustrate this point, King introduces the readers to the antiquated legal practice of manumission. Manumission is the practice of a slave owner allowing their slave to work and proceed to buy their own freedom. Once the master was paid, the slaves would receive a slip of paper from the owner which relinquishes their ownership of the slave and stating that the slave was a free person. King compares the ending of segregation to a slave gaining his/her freedom. It is not a luxury to afford but it is something already afforded to them not just as American citizens but also as people. As human beings, African Americans have the right to life, liberty, and prosperity just like everyone else. Why We Can’t Wait is a read that is directed towards Caucasian people to shake them out of complacency by presenting how damaging and widespread the Jim Crow laws truly are to the African American community. King takes his message a step further by assigning blame to the people who just stand in the shadows and watch the movement happen. King calls the reader to action by asking him/her to join in the nonviolent protests. Some have argued that King’s tactics are too militant and that a softer approach would be better suited to combat social issues. Yet, civil rights movement revolutionaries such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, Booker T. Washington did not produce nearly the results that King did with his own movement. King garnered better results by utilizing nonviolent tactics and appealing to all with an enticing and hopeful rhetoric. The inclusiveness of King’s movement introduced new groups of people that were formerly underutilized or not included in former protests, such as children and college students. King received heavy criticism for using children in his protests and he had a few reservations himself but decided to “subpoena the conscience of the nation to the judgment seat of morality” (King). King soothed the guardians of the children by claiming that they are truly changing the world for the better, for all of mankind. King would later go on to say that introducing children to the movement intensified the movement and was crucial in winning the war on morality.ReferencesAnnotated Bibliography:Gale, T. (2008). Harlem. Retrieved January 19, 2018, from http://www.encyclopedia.com/places/united-states-and-canada/miscellaneous-us-geography/harlemThe city of Harlem has undergone many transformations. In the 1920’s, it was the center of the rebirth of African American art. Where black was in style, color barriers were ignored, and Jim Crow took the backseat. There was a dramatic change in the 1960’s, when the city was facing gentrification, with the goal of removing African Americans from the area. The dramatic change of the city mirrors the dichotomy that King presents in his piece about African American youth in the North and South. This evidence supported the argument that segregation was harsh no matter where black Americans were. Wright, B. (2013, January 01). 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama: A timeline of events. Retrieved January 19, 2018, from http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2013/01/1963_in_birmingham_alabama_a_t.htmlBirmingham, Alabama was a cesspool of racial tensions in 1963. It was where King penned his famous Letter from Birmingham, children took to the streets to protest racial injustice, and was the place of countless nonviolent demonstrations. The blatant racism and the people that were dedicated to change it were included in this piece to demonstrate the type of environment that the young African American child in King’s dichotomy must have encountered. P. (2018). The Birmingham Campaign. Retrieved January 19, 2018, from http://www.pbs.org/black-culture/explore/civil-rights-movement-birmingham-campaign/#.WmG6Mq6nGURacial tensions reached a boiling point in 1963 when peaceful protestors were met with nothing but violence and hatred. While protesting, people were met with dogs and water hoses. In the end, the campaign was successful and the lunch counters, water fountains, and bathrooms were desegregated. President Kennedy’s strong verbiage meaning the hatred shown in Birmingham was utilized to show just how serious and frightening the world that the African American child lived in truly was. Lanahan, L. (2015, December 18). Let’s Not Forget Northern Racism-the Kind That Almost Gutted Fair Housing. Retrieved January 19, 2018, from https://www.colorlines.com/articles/lets-not-forget-northern-racism%E2%80%94-kind-almost-gutted-fair-housingThis source demonstrated the differences between Northern and Southern segregation and the stigma that was associated with each. The North propagated the lie that it was more accepting than the South, when the racism was there but it was embedded in the state’s infrastructure. While in the South, African Americans were more likely to be met with outwardly violence, in the North they were more likely to be denied housing and economic opportunities. This supported the argument that King made with the dichotomy of the children, wherever you live in the nation, you will face segregation, hatred, and limited opportunities. Urofsky, M. I. (2017, July 19). Jim Crow law. Retrieved January 19, 2018, from https://www.britannica.com/event/Jim-Crow-lawThe Jim Crow laws dominated the nation during the time prior and during the Civil Rights Movement. These laws concluded that people of color could no coexist with Caucasians as they were inferior. Under the policy of separate but equal, the nation was allowed to discriminate against people of color. These enhanced King’s argument that Caucasian people chose not to see that African Americans wanted civil rights as they seemed to be complacent. King dismantled this illusion by claiming that the threat of jail would no longer work on the African Americans as they would simply just overfill the jails. Rothman, L. (2017, August 7). This Week in History: After the Detroit Riots of 1967. Retrieved January 19, 2018, from http://time.com/4881640/1967-whitney-young/The concept of white privilege was rife during the Civil Rights Era. The concept of white privilege being that African Americans were already at a disadvantage and that giving the two groups the same treatment would leave Caucasians ahead of the African Americans.This was part of the battle that King was fighting, people were very reluctant to relinquish their white privilege and it was even tougher to swallow that even straight equality was not enough to help the African American community.Semuels, A. (2017, February 17). ‘Segregation Had to Be Invented’. Retrieved January 19, 2018, from https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/02/segregation-invented/517158/After the Civil War, it was a common assumption that African Americans and Caucasians self segregated, yet this is far from the truth. Both communities lived side by side with little to no racial tension, poor farmers even united together at the voting booths when they felt slighted. This ended when the industry focused Democrats created a political strategy called “white supremacy” to break up the unity between the farmers. This policy led Caucasians to believe that they were better than African Americans and should separate from them. This political strategy was successful and this example demonstrated the prejudices that King’s rhetoric was combating.