For dozens of years, black people were treated like animals, even decades after they were “freed” from the shackles of slavery. It wasn’t until the mid-1950’s that one man took it into his own hands to make a change, and his name was Martin Luther King, Jr., a name with which virtually the entirety of America is familiar. King did a lot of monumental things, and almost all of his influence lay within his mastery of word manipulation and rhetoric. Perhaps one of the greatest examples of his use of rhetoric happens to be in his “Letter From a Birmingham Jail”, written to a group of white clergymen in 1963 after they criticized his campaign. However, one can argue that the letter isn’t actually written to the clergymen, but rather to a much …show more content…
Possibly the most praised parts of his letter are indeed the most emotional. Quite arguably the most famous part of his letter is his over three-hundred word sentence describing why change needs to happen immediately, and why there is no longer time to wait. Anyone who has even skimmed the letter knows what sentence is being referred. Here is a small excerpt: “When you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she cannot go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her little eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children… - then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait” (2). Of course, that’s barely scraping the surface of what the entire paragraph has to offer, but this certainly shows how King uses emotion so masterfully within his writing. It reaches out to every person, even the most racist of whites, and asks them to truly feel, if only for a second, what black people feel almost constantly. In doing this, King utilizes perhaps one of the strongest emotions we can experience: sympathy for others. King is almost irrefutably one of the greatest speakers of the century, if not all of history, and it is this particular section of his writing that helps illustrate …show more content…
It certainly seems that throughout many parts of the letter that King uses the clergymen as a stepping stool to achieve this, whilst still simultaneously castigating them for their earlier remarks against himself. As Leff and Utley said, “This construct allows King to criticize his target without alienating himself from it and also allows the ‘eavesdropping’ black audience to discover a model for reconstructing their own sense of agency” (37). Truly, King shows off his master of wordplay in quite an outstanding way within this
In this letter by Martin Luther King Jr., he wants to explain to the eight clergymen why he has been jailed. He wants to show them that what he was doing was necessary. The clergymen were confused and upset about his image and wrote a statement explaining their own views. After reading this statement, King wanted to have these men completely educated on the matter. King does this by persuading his audience, using various rhetorical devices.
As a leader of civil rights activist, Martin Luther King wrote a letter in response to the Alabama clergymen called, “Letter to Birmingham Jail” to discuss and present different tactics to end racial discrimination. The clergymen respect King’s ideas, however they were hesitant about his tactics because they believe in the end it will turn out to be violent. King understands why they might be unsure about his tactics but does not approve in what the clergymen labeled his strategies is one of an “extremist”. In order to bring his explanations across he uses rhetorical strategies to help achieve what he is trying to convince the clergymen of the idea of being an extremist. Logos is one of the rhetorical devices King uses to support his opinion.
Academically prestigious pastor, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., writes a letter response, from Birmingham Jail, addressing the criticisms pegged on him for nonviolent protesting from a public caution statement released by eight white religious leader from the south. Dr. King’s purpose is to inform the eight religious leaders and fellow Americans, as to why African Americans cannot “just wait” for the injustices occurring to their black community to pass on with time. In his letter, Dr. King uses biblical allusions, rhetorical devices, and precise diction to effectively establish his message and inform his audience. In the opening paragraph, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., makes it clear that he is not writing a response to insult or degrade the religious
By the end of the “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” King broadens his scope and its corresponding language to include his most important audience, the African-Americans themselves. While the beginning of letter addresses the white audience in white terms, his latter part presents a complete shift on the level of language and argument. As King writes with the powerful use of imagery in the letter, “you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and frown your sister and brothers at whim; you have seen hate-filled policemen kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters with impunity” (Rottenberg 815) it shows that the language obviously becomes far more simplified but portrays the strength and power of raw emotion. That is exactly what King wanted in order to make the audience feel the strong emotion and pain he felt and justify his cause of writing this letter in response to the clergymen. Henry Louis Gates, Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the W. E.
He does this throughout the letter, but one strong example is when King addresses the issue of the Civil Rights movement being made of “extremists.” King uses the criticism to his advantage when he lists many Christian and American idols, like Jesus Christ, Apostle Paul, Abraham Lincoln, and Thomas Jefferson- and redefines them as extremists. This is incredibly effective, as it is very difficult for a clergyman to say no to, “Was not Jesus an extremist for love?”(7). This use of famous figures powerfully supports his purpose of moving his audience to action, as it distances the movement from stereotypically disdained extremism and realigns it with the widely respected values the audience agrees
Rhetorical Analysis Martin Luther King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail The “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, was written by Martin Luther King, who was an amazing writer, and speaker. King was a man that fought against racism toward African Americans. With being an African American himself, he understood the way racism had affected African American’s daily lives.
This equal standing is one of the many points King tries to make, but certainly not the only one. King’s letter is written as a means of justifying his cause, as well as a means of displaying the unfair treatment of blacks in America. With his use of pathos, saying things such as “when you have seen hate-filled policeman curse, kick, and even kill your black brothers and sisters” makes an extremely heavy impact on the audience. Through his many uses of appeals, mainly his emotional appeal, he is able to convince his audience that not only are blacks not animals, but they are just like everyone
Throughout his letter King aids his point through the use of rhetorical devices. King does this by making stark comparisons, alluding to the bible and its’ stories, along with the use of figurative language. This gives King’s letter a great literary view and makes it ever more effective in resolving segregation. Within King’s letter
Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” is an impassioned, eloquent piece of argumentation against racial injustice; his letter being the distillation of a lifetime as well as centuries of oppression. Through a careful balance of logic versus brevity, King weaves a tapestry that illuminates not only the personal struggle of African Americans in the United States, but connect their struggle to mans’ struggle for decency in the face of injustice. King begins by flattering his “dear fellow Clergymen” (King, 502) while at the same time making it clear that he is imprisoned—with sarcasm King makes it clear that with his free time, he found their letter, and thought it fitting to address them accordingly. Appearing to pathos,
In paragraphs 33 to 44 of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s response to “A Call for Unity,” a declaration by eight clergymen, “Letter from Birmingham Jail” (1963), he expresses that despite his love for the church, he is disappointed with its lack of action regarding the Civil Rights Movement. Through powerful, emotionally-loaded diction, syntax, and figurative language, King adopts a disheartened tone later shifts into a determined tone in order to express and reflect on his disappointment with the church’s inaction and his goals for the future. King begins this section by bluntly stating that he is “greatly disappointed” (33) with the church, though he “will remain true to it as long as the cord of life shall lengthen” (33). By appealing to ethos and informing the audience of his history with the church, he indicates that he is not criticizing the church for his own sake, but for the good of the church.
Segregationist, Martin Luther King, Jr., in his letter “Letter from Birmingham Jail” emphasizes the need for integration and racial equality. After reading text written by clergymen, King felt the responsibility to explain his cause. He adapts a diplomatic tone in order to convince society to integrate and end racial injustice. King begins his letter by introducing the reason for being in Birmingham.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was placed in Birmingham Jail in the 1960’s. During his time there, King wrote his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” after an open letter that was given to the public saying that the fellow clergymen were criticizing and saying that his present activities were “unwise and untimely.” King answers these charges in a careful crafted analysis by stating the opposing argument, and then contrasting it with his own argument. Henry David Thoreau wrote “Civil Disobedience” it exposes the mind to the idea of prioritizing laws. Refusing to obey the laws and demands of government, it criticizes the American institution of government at the time and is also defined as a text to live by.
“...when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness”- then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.” (MLK, 276). King uses this strong sense of appeal to emotion to engross his readers and let them know how hard it is for them.
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.