Throughout all of American history, many individuals have stood up for the justice that they believed they deserved. We have seen these individuals pay the price of jail for standing up in what they deem to be a righteous and just cause. Which brings us to the question, what is a just and unjust cause, or even more imperative, what is a just and unjust law? In Martin Luther's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail", he talks about how the African-American people were being treated unfairly by an unjust law. Luther also feels that because of this unjust law he has the right to act upon it with civil disobedience. Luther is not the only person who feels that sometimes there must be a call for civil disobedience. One of the most influential figures in American thought and literature also saw a need for civil disobedience. Henry David Thoreau wrote an essay entitled "Civil Disobedience" in which he explained his reasons for not paying taxes to a government fighting an unjust war. Although Thoreau and Luther both agree on the act of civil disobedience, there is one author, Louis Waldman, who wrote an article entitled "Civil Rights-Yes: Civil Disobedience-No". In his article Waldman is writing a reply to Luther on why he thinks he is wrong for the way he justifies his civil disobedience. I believe that Luther and Thoreau are right in the ways in which they rebel against a government that is upholding unjust laws and making unjust decision. Although Waldman makes good points against Luther, I believe most of his points are false. Throughout Luther's letter I believe that he makes many brilliant points in which to defend his case of civil disobedience.
Luther defines civil disobedience to be, "One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty." Luther is not only defining what civil disobedience is but he is also showing that he was willing to commit to all of the following.