Rhetorical Analysis Of Letter From Birmingham Jail

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Letter From Birmingham Jail, was written by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the summer of 1963. Birmingham became a center of activity in the equal rights movement and was even referred to as “Bombingham” (find quote). Dr. King was arrested during a non-violent peaceful march because he didn’t have a parade permit. Segregation laws and Jim Crow policies kept the system of separate school, restaurants, restrooms, hotels, and drinking fountains alive in the South. Although the Civil War ended slavery, the equal rights of southern African Americans were almost non-existent. Religious leaders from the Birmingham church community, instead of being in support of Dr. King’s cause, were critical of Dr.King’s motives and methods. These leaders …show more content…

King appeals to his audience with persuasion that was meant to touch the hearts of the readers through pathos. The values and beliefs of the readers are where King directed much of his responses. He began with comparisons of himself to Paul. “I am compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my particular hometown. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.”(King,800) Correlations between the just and unjust behaviors of Birmingham to Biblical events were meant persuade the churches of Birmingham to see the plight of the African Americans and to see the injustices that were being done to the citizens of that city. In his writing, King recalled, “But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here.” …show more content…

Because of the hurt that the readers felt, it was more likely that they would begin to support the work of Dr. King and his followers. King’s speech is very vivid when he described the pain that his people had endured. While many white supporters told him to wait, he responded with the following, “For years now I have heard the word ‘wait.’ It rings in the ear of every Negro with a piercing familiarity. This ‘wait’ has almost meant ‘never.’ It has been a tranquilizing thalidomide, relieving the emotional stress for a moment, only to give birth to an ill-informed infant of frustration.” (King,803) King continued, “that some have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say ‘wait.’ But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim: when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick, brutalize, and even kill your black brothers and sisters impunity: when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothers in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society.” (King,83) With King’s use of the rhetorical device of pathos, I feel certain that he made it point to the

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