Martin Luther King is probably best known for his philosophy of non-violent resistance. It's important to remember that resistance, regardless of how it manifests itself, is still resistance.
King's Letter From Birmingham Jail was written in response to a group of sympathetic white clergyman issuing a "Call to Unity" basically pleading for the civil rights movement to get off the streets and back behind courtroom doors. In his letter King outlined point by point why direct action was necessary in order to precipitate change.
Like all Americans I long for unity. I wish we lived in a time when we could put aside our universally petty differences and work for the common good of the United States of America. I wish we could all just get along.
But wishes aren't horses. Wanting America to be a better place and making America a better place are two entirely different animals. One necessitates nothing but imagination while the other takes a willingness to act and courage; because change will meet resistance. Change always meets resistance.
If those kids who faced down Bull Connor's dogs and fire hoses would've waited, would've taken the middle-road or would've sat on their hands in the hopes that we would all just "get along" then Jim Crow would still be very much alive today. If they had put their resistance aside in deference to the idea there is just "one America" then they'd still be riding in the back of the bus.
Real change takes courage and it takes action. Dr. King knew that. My hope is that our political leaders today will heed his message.