I mentioned in my last entry that reading Martin Luther King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail will improve your writing skills. Give it a try! Here’s a selection. I don’t think anyone, even Lincoln, even Churchill, ever used the English language so well. Maybe because it appeals to me so directly as a father:
“We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God-given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse-and-buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter.
“Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, ‘Wait.’ But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society;
“When you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people;
“When you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking: ‘Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?'”
That’s just a taste. Read the whole thing and you’ll be the next Kurt Vonnegut.