Martin Luther King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail", King states, "I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek." This quote, by King, is directed towards the clergy men of the south, in attempts to try and convince them that his nonviolent civil rights movement was appropriate. Yet, what does this quote mean, what are the "means" that he approves of, and how does King's opinion vary with that of Machiavelli?.
King's quote in short means that he does not agree with the use of immoral devices to achieve a moral goal. Dr. King believed that if you wanted unity and peace among the races then you could not take the path of violence to achieve that. Many of the other movements during this time notably that of Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad and his Muslim movement. These movements were violent and were "nourished by the Negro's frustration over the continued existence of racial discrimination" (163). Personally I think that King was right to continue with a non-violence .
movement. It is the perfect scenario to use when trying to make a point. Especially in the civil rights movement, here were these peaceful protestors marching through cities and were met with hate and prejudice. These protestors were completely peaceful and were arrested and beaten by the law enforcement. King believes that even if these marches cause violence by the law enforcement and other racist that they should continue to get their message across. To stop would be "like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery" (161). Which is true, why should you stop doing something that makes people violent if it is morally right? King believes that using the right means to achieve moral goals is necessary at any cost, even if that means jail or personal harm. King demonstrated that himself by going to jail on numerous occasions and eventually paying the ultimate cost of his own life.