While in solitary confinement for nearly 8 days, reverend and social justice activist, Martin Luther King Jr., wrote his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail in response to the criticism he received for his non-violent protests. Several clergy who negatively critiqued King’s approach of seeking justice, wrote A Call for Unity, arguing that his protests were senseless and improper. Within the article, the clergymen provide nine different critiques that asserted how King’s protest are invalid, uneffective, and simply unintelligent in the fight for obtaining justice and equity for individuals of color. His letter has become one of the most profound pieces of literature of the 20th century, as King uses vivid examples and eloquent rhetorical devices to counter all nine arguments.
Martin Luther King Jr. wrote the letter from jail, after he got arrested during a peaceful protest. At the time segregation was still a part of the culture in the United States and Martin Luther King Jr. and his followers were working diligently and peacefully to try and make a change in people’s hearts about segregation. In this letter MLK Jr. is writing to defend his strategy of nonviolent resistance to racism, which he does effectively by using rhetoric.
Martin Luther King Jr once stated, “One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.” in his Letter from Birmingham Jail in 1963. He was invoking the principle of civil disobedience. He wasn't justifying breaking laws just because, but instead, meant that you break the law and accept your punishment, in hopes that people will come to see that the law is unethical. Civil disobedience plays an important role in how our society has been shaped up until this point. It is out of the selfless act of heroes and heroines of civil disobedience such as Mahatma Gandhi that the society is enjoying the fruits today. This speech is going to demonstrate how civil disobedience has played roles in social reforms, containing unjust rulings
King backs this up stating, “We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was "legal" and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was "illegal."” This statement shows that something being legal or illegal doesn’t make it right or wrong. This can be applied to present day, in the news recently Gay marriage has been a huge debate, and due to a Supreme Court Decision gay marriage is now legal. According to King’s definition of just and unjust laws Gay Marriage would be a unjust law because it isn’t morally right, or follow the law of God. King makes the point that a law is just if it follows the Law of God and Unjust if it doesn’t. King goes on further to explain a just law is a law that a “power majority group” wants a minority group to follow and is willing to follow the same law itself. On the other end of the spectrum an unjust law would be if the Majority group isn’t willing to follow the same law they are requiring a minority group to follow. With all of Kings bashing of laws in the letter King takes a step back to clarify that he doesn’t want everyone to go out and break the law, he says this would lead to anarchy. He also says “One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty.” King is the prime example of this, King showed multiple times
Martin Luther King Jr. is a name that will never be forgotten, and that will go down in the books for all of time. He was foremost a civil rights activist throughout the 1950s and 1960s. during his lifetime, which lasted from January of 1929 to April of 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was an American Baptist minister and a social activist and was known for his non- violent protests. He believed that all people, no matter the color, have a moral responsibility to break unjust laws and to take a direct action rather than waiting forever for justice to come through and finally be resolved.
In the “letter from Birmingham Jail” by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., he uses pathos, logos and rhetorical devices such as imagery, sarcasm and biblical allusions to show how his work of nonviolent protests are smart and how Birmingham has violated their civil rights. He expresses himself in his letter by explaining why he can not wait any longer because of the countless murders, the unsolved bombing, lynching, and violence towards the black community. MLK Jr. came across a statement which was a call for unity by eight Clergymen while being in the Birmingham city jail because of him not having a license to protest. In response to the eight Clergymen, Dr. king decided to write a historical letter letting them know that freedom was not an option because of the false promise and the continued violence. The letter is written to inform the people who are against, neutral and with segregation that it is time to take action and prove to the clergymen why he will stand up for what is right.
Martin Luther King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail addresses his fellow clergymen and others who critiqued him for his actions during this time. The clergymen along with others are addressed in an assertive tone allowing them to fully understand why his actions are justified. Throughout the letter critics are disproved through King’s effective use of diction and selection of detail.
In Martin Luther King, Jr.’s essay, “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” and Henry David Thoreau essay “Civil Disobedience,” both share their opinions on social injustice and civil disobedience. They both believe that people can protest unfair and unjust laws imposed on them in a civil way. In addition, King and Thoreau are challenging the government with their essays, which they wrote after they got sent to jail. For protesting the treatment of blacks in Birmingham, Alabama, King spent eleven days in jail; Thoreau spent a night in jail for refusing to pay his poll tax. Both King and Thoreau’s essays present similar plans for a resolution. They try to convince their audience that they are doing the right thing by using the three appeals; however, they both approach their arguments differently.
In Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail” and “I Have a Dream” speech he uses many different rhetorical devices. He uses rhetorical devices such as repetition, analogy, and rhetorical questions. In each writing, he uses the devices for many different purposes. These purposes can be similar, or different. In short, Martin Luther King Jr. includes rhetorical devices in his writing.
Civil rights leader and social activist Martin Luther King Jr. wrote a world renown correspondence, Letter From Birmingham Jail, in April of 1963, during a time when segregation was at it’s peak in the South. When King was making his mark in American history, the United States was experiencing great social unrest due to the injustice towards their colored citizens, which would lead to social rights rallies and unnecessary violence. In response to King’s peaceful protesting, the white community viewed “[his] nonviolent efforts as those of an extremist,” and subsequently imprisoned the pastor (para 27). King specifically wrote to the white clergymen who had earlier addressed a letter to him as to why he was apprehended, in which they argued that his actions were untimely and unconstitutional. In response, King emphasized that justice is never timely, and the refusal to acknowledge equal rights was inhumane and regressive. Throughout the text, King utilized the values of his audience to gain sympathy and later on support. His use of diction and syntax would align his mission to God’s, and show that he was in the right and the clergymen were in the wrong.
In Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, he responded to statements written in a Birmingham newspaper that criticized his actions in the city. He undermined these disapprovals by explaining his belief in nonviolent direct action. King also went on to give opinions on other topics, such as, the lack of support from white moderates and white churches. He used technique and structure to develop his ideas and justify his methods.
Nonviolent resistance and realistic pacifism were more than an intellectual assent, but rather a way of life for Martin Luther King Jr. The profound dedication that King exemplifies is a testament to the power of love in the face injustice. King notes in his work Pilgrimage to Nonviolence, of the process of meticulously surveying the works of other philosophical thinkers in search of something to medicate his religious, and personal dilemma when addressing philosophical perspectives. Ghandi’s nonviolent resistance has made a lasting impact on King, which has made a tremendous influence in African American rights. King firmly believes in the strength, and change that is consistent with nonviolent resistance in the face of objection. The responses
Martin Luther King Jr.'s Letter from Birmingham Jail, which was written in April 16, 1963, is a passionate letter that addresses racial segregation and all the injustices to the black American society. He writes this letter as a response to the eight clergymen, but it also became one of the most influential letters in defense of nonviolent movement ever written. Birmingham was one of the most segregated cities in the country and the most violent. Even after segregation was found to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1954. In Birmingham, white and black Americans were very much separate with “white only” hotels, restaurants, and even bathrooms. In some community’s blacks were denied the right to vote, adequate education for their
Martin Luther King, Jr. attempts to persuade clergymen to follow in his civil rights movement through exhibiting his knowledge over just and unjust laws, displaying peaceful behavior, and empathetic diction.
He then refers to his earlier statement about the apathy of the clergymen regarding the reason for the demonstrations, alluding to their anxiety over the protesters willingness to break the law. However, he brings up a dichotomy: the laxness and rigidity in which different laws are enforced. Namely, he sarcastically refers to the apprehensive enforcement of the 1954 Supreme Court decision outlawing segregation. Well, why are only some laws enforced? King answers this question by stating that there are two kinds of laws: just and unjust. The former is mainly characterized by one quality: morality. See, for a law to be just, it cannot be forced upon a specific demographic of the population by another; every demographic must have the opportunity for equal representation in the proposition of said law. Otherwise, there will always be a feeling of being acted-upon for the oppressed rather than collectively acting as a