Ethos In Letter From Birmingham Jail

1020 Words5 Pages
One Friday in 1953, 53 African Americans marched down the streets of Birmingham to peacefully protest against discrimination; however, only for all of them to be arrested. Nonetheless, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. reciprocated a response that was a turning point for the Civil Rights Movement. In Dr. King's “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” he justifies the nonviolent actions of the black community using the rhetorical methods of pathos, ethos, and logos to demonstrate their diplomatic push towards desegregation. Veering towards not only the eight clergymen who wrote a proposal for blacks to stop their futile actions but as well as the people of America, Dr. King uses ethos to establish his credibility to fight injustice. Even before he states…show more content…
In the beginning, King states, “the Southern lands have been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue” (720). This is setting the reader up for his declaration that unjust laws should not be followed unerringly. A voice speaks out in question of segregation, but no voice answers to address its concerns-the picture that King paints portrays a land of injustice and unequal opinion. Saying "the Southern lands," instead of specifying that it is the black populace who is experiencing the hardships, aims to make the audience realize that these problems are not only affecting a single race, but it encompasses the entire South. This is building up a logical appeal: if the entire South is in a stalemate of injustice where a person's opinion is not given any weight, then there is a good possibility that the laws of the land are unjust and need amending. King then claims, “Hence segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and awful” (722). All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality by giving people a false sense of inferiority. King supports this by using examples on how discrimination has effected everyone and the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court. He claims that there is no need to support these laws because they are morally wrong, and their reason to fight for better rights is the more morally right action. He clarifies all of
Open Document