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. One very famous advocate was Martin Luther King Jr. On April 16, 1963, Dr. King had written a letter from Birmingham jail to eight clergymen towards racial equality. Martin Luther King Jr. had used this letter to convince the clergymen of the racial injustice towards African Americans. In order to persuade his audience Dr. King had used rhetorical devices to appeal to them. Martin Luther King Jr. uses an urgent tone to his
In the year 1963 of August, Martin Luther King wrote his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” as a response of a letter published in a local newspaper. This letter, written by the Clergymen of Birmingham at this time, caught his attention while he was confined in jail for parading without a permit. This time allowed him to respond passionately to the injustice in Birmingham. King’s letter addresses specific points presented in the Clergymen’s, and his direct approach separates King’s strong points through his powerful writing. King is able to defend these differing views and actions through rhetorical devices such as ethos, logos, and pathos.
He shows his concerns for the African American community by expressing their thoughts and feelings because they feel as if they have no voice. He was their voice. Throughout the “letter” Dr. King demonstrated pathos by engaging his readers of the struggle of being an African American descent. Dr. King starts off by letting his readers know that he was confined during the time of the letter was written and he was addressing the eight clergymen who called his action of a peaceful protest “untimely and unwise”. (King Jr., p. 645) However, he continues to explain his reason for being in Birmingham by saying that injustice was present and he could not just sit in another state and watch it;” Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” (King Jr., p. 645) Dr. King was an activist and he showed support where ever and whenever he was invited, therefore he explains the reason why he was in Birmingham.
When a federal injunction was put into place to prevent the protest without permission of the city, Martin Luther King Jr. persevered and decided to go on with the campaign. He got arrested for heading the demonstration and was in jail for eight days. When King heard of the eight clergymen who wrote a letter criticizing the direct action campaign, he began to write his well-known Letter from a Birmingham Jail. One of the tactics he uses to get people to agree with him is he uses emotion to get people’s attention. An example of this comes from paragraph eleven in which the main focus is a lengthy sentence devoted to naming the struggles African Americans endured during that time.
On April 16, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote the “Letter from Birmingham City Jail.” This letter was intended to be a response to the eight clergymen of Alabama, who wrote a response concerning King, and the racial issues going on in Birmingham. The response of the eight clergymen was a way to criticize King and the Negro community for basically taking action. Referring to King’s efforts as “unwise and untimely.” Meaning, that it was not a convenient time to start protesting around town and getting attention. Meaning, stop trying to change how things work, and just wait for it. Key word, “wait.” That’s precisely what King did not want to do, he grew tired of hearing that four letter word his whole life, he and many others wanted to see change
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.
While he served his 11 day sentence, King would write the “Letter From Birmingham City Jail” to the eight Birmingham Clergymen. This item would be a pivotal part of the Civil Rights Movement. One point that the Birmingham clergymen made was that King and his cohorts are willing to break laws and they expressed concern. Dr.King discussed this topic in his letter, he stated that there is a difference
Martin Luther King use of figurative language within his “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, persuades his audience to rise up against the racial injustices in Birmingham. In paragraph eight, Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.” Dr. Martin Luther King is describing to his audience that racial injustice entraps and frustrates every person and that national policy is required to ensure that every person has a solid foundation of worth. In paragraph twelve, Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted.” Dr. Martin Luther King use of “dark clouds and deep fog passing away” is to show hope for his people suffering from racial
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.
In terms of legacies, Martin Luther King Jr. is an example of someone whose legacy has left an impact on a great many fields. The first to come to mind for most would be civil rights activism, as he was an instrumental figure in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. However, Martin Luther King Jr is an extremely influential figure in the field of oration and rhetoric. His Letter from Birmingham Jail is a work that he wrote while incarcerated in the Birmingham City Jail in response to criticism from Alabama clergymen. This letter is a prime example of King’s expertise in constructing persuasive rhetoric that appealed to the masses at large.