Rhetorical Analysis Of Letter From Birmingham Jail

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“Martin Luther King Jr’s Use of Authorities in “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” In Martin Luther King Jr’s argumentative letter, “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” King argues his position on his nonviolent protests, segregation, and his disappointments with the church and Birmingham’s city officials. This letter was written to clergymen that called King’s peaceful protesting “unwise and untimely” (para.1). King explains his positions by providing examples that strengthen his argument. Overall King makes it clear that little has been accomplished in the civil rights movement to end segregation and the hatred Caucasians have towards African Americans. His points are based on logical and emotional positions as well as positions from authorities. …show more content…

For example, King left his hometown to travel to Birmingham, Alabama, because he wanted to fix the injustice there. He compared himself to the Apostle Paul who traveled and shared the word of God. King, like the Apostle Paul, carried the message of freedom throughout the southern United States. King says, “Like Paul, I must respond to the country’s call for help (para.3). King also explains how people white and black must create a force that will bring people together rather than stay segregated. He compares himself to the Greek philosopher Socrates who said, “There should be a tension in peoples’ minds that could help them break away from the bondage of myths and untruthful lies” (King, para.10). King calls himself an extremist because of his actions. He compares himself to Abraham Lincoln who was an extremist to end slavery who said, “This nation can’t survive half free and half slave.” He also compares himself to Thomas Jefferson who was an extremist for equally who said, “We hold these truths that men are created equal.” King asks his audience, the clergymen, “What kind of extremist are you?” This evidence shows that King is giving the clergymen examples of different extremists so he can shift their views and make them want to be someone like Thomas Jefferson or Abraham Lincoln. King says that the south is in need of an extremist (para. …show more content…

King strengthens his position by saying that a group fighting for rights is more powerful than one individual fighting for rights by referring to theologian Reinhold Niebuhr who said, “Groups tend to be more immoral than individuals” (para.11). For example, King says groups rarely give up their privileges. He also explains the difference between a just law and an unjust law by saying a just law is a manmade law that lines up with moral laws and an unjust law is a law that’s not moral. King better explains his definitions by referring to St. Thomas Aquinas who called an unjust law, a law that isn’t rooted in the natural and Godly laws. He called a just law a law that “uplifts human personality” (para. 14). King also explains his point on disobeying unmoral and unjust laws by referring to biblical figures Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who didn’t follow the laws of Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar’s laws were unmoral and unjust, whoever didn’t follow them were thrown to the lions or were executed (King, para. 18). This evidence is a strength of King’s argument because it relates to what King and African Americans go through facing unjust laws, but they don’t face harsh

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