Dawn McNeil-Bruce English 2100 Professor Andrews- Parker 10/21/15 The Rhetorical Techniques in “Letter from Birmingham Jail” The unjust treatment of African Americans have cause a significant amount of African American leaders to use different ways to advocate for racial equality.
These two remarkable pieces of writing share common themes of rights and Freedom such as injustice, tone, and allusion in America. To begin with, in both Letter from Birmingham and Four freedom dr. King and Roosevelt use similar tones. In Letter from Birmingham jail, Dr. King tone comes off as noble and slightly angry.
Through the 1790's and prior, The United States developed a systematic racism through slavery. Benjamin Banneker, an educated man, son of a freed slave, drafted a letter to Thomas Jefferson, writer of the Declaration of Independence. Banneker composed this letter to prompt Jefferson to take a strong stance against slavery so that slavery may eventually end. His letter courteously questions Jefferson's validity of the statement “all men are created equal” within the Declaration of Independence by calling to question the institution of slavery. Banneker uses repetition to reinforce a formal and respectful tone, utilizes strong and emotional diction, and concludes with a biblical allusion.
The Letter from Birmingham Jail and the I have a Dream Speech, both written by Martin Luther King Jr., explain the same message to people in two different ways. The Letter from Birmingham Jail was to write a letter to defend the strategy of nonviolent resistance to racism. He wrote this because he wants African Americans to come together and peacefully protest the unjust laws that are in place. On the other hand, his speech was to a large group of citizens, black and white, fighting for freedom, equality, justice and love. He used many rhetorical devices in his speech and letter that compared the two, and to show the differences in a clear way.
During the era of the civil rights movements in the 60s, among the segregation, racism, and injustice against the blacks, Martin Luther King Jr. stood at the Lincoln Memorial to deliver one of the greatest public speeches for freedom in that decade. In Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech he effectively uses ethos, diction and powerful metaphors to express the brutality endured by African American people. Yet his most important method of reaching his audience, and conveying his enduring message of equality and freedom for the whole nation was his appeal to pathos. With these devices, King was able to move thousands of hearts and inspire the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Opening his speech Martin Luther King Jr. sets up his credibility with his use of ethos, referring to the Declaration of Independence saying, “This note was a promise that all men… would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life.”
“Letter from Birmingham Jail” ABCBC Paragraph In the text “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, by Martin Luther King Jr., King used the power of pathos and rhetorical questions to enhance his claim about the injustice of segregation along with advocating for civil disobedience. The text reads, “All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality” (King, page 7). One can see from this that the use of pathos persuades the readers opinion in the matter in that pathos allows a writing to appeal to your emotions in evoking an emotional response. The evidence suggests a strong credibility on why segregation is inequitable supporting the authors purpose to validate how segregation vigorously twists the
Taking a look back at paragraph 10, the picture that King paints stirs emotions within the reader. By describing the struggle and horrors that blacks go through, King makes the reader question the current system and why it’s the way it is. The “Letter From Birmingham Jail” is a strong piece of literature that sends an impactful message. He is able to justify all of his actions and effectively persuade the reader into siding with him.
While contained at Birmingham Jail Martin Luther King Jr. wrote an open letter encouraging and defending a nonviolent approach to dealing with racism. Martin Luther King Jr. being known as a public figure who has impacted the way America as a whole treats African-Americans. Having lived through a time when his rights, as well as every person of color didn’t match to their fellow Americans, he felt the need to advocate. The letter has been considered as one of the best argument pieces, persuading and convincing many, due to diction and usage of rhetorical strategies.
It is a common argument for Christian slaveholders to make “…that God cursed Ham, and therefore American slavery is right…” (5). this argument exposes their hypocrisy as it conveys how they attempt to stretch small pieces of scripture to justify the violence of the American slavery. Douglass thus asks if it is humane to use a small piece of writing to damn an entire race to hardship and subhuman treatment. This case of blasphemy is amplified by the observation that Douglass makes of one of his slave masters, Mr. Covey, in that “he seemed to think himself equal to deceiving the almighty” (61).
His speech is similar to the one he gave in 2008 and contains repetition and conveys his political views. We notice how Obama opens his sentence with the same words such as: “We want”, “You’ll hear” and “That’s”. His speech is followed by the ideas about the USA, Americans or what the future holds for them. The first rhetorical device used by Barack Obama in his speech is an Anaphora. He starts his sentences with the same lines.
One biblical example that Dr. King used, was when he mentioned that Jews and Gentiles one day will be able to walk together hand in hand. This bettered my understanding of King's speech because it made a comparison of the great differences of Jews and Gentile to whites and blacks. Historically speaking, Jews and Gentiles naturally did not like each other, nor get along. The Jews viewed themselves to be somewhat superior to the Gentiles in a religious manner. This compares to how many whites in King’s time period believed that they were naturally superior to the black race.