He explained why the protesters were civilly infringing racist laws and city ordinances; why the protesters had truth and justice; and how he was thwarted with the clergyman and white moderates in the South who said they supported his cause. In his “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, Dr. King incorporates biblical and historical allusions to give him credibility with his target audience, the clergymen. Additionally, Dr. King subtly asks rhetorical questions and makes logical conclusions to force his audience to consider his strategy of nonviolent resistance to cease racism and oppression. Throughout his piece, Dr. King uses many strong connections to biblical theologians and philosophers that strengthen his appeal and credibility.
While in solitary confinement for nearly 8 days, reverend and social justice activist, Martin Luther King Jr., wrote his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail in response to the criticism he received for his non-violent protests. Several clergy who negatively critiqued King’s approach of seeking justice, wrote A Call for Unity, arguing that his protests were senseless and improper. Within the article, the clergymen provide nine different critiques that asserted how King’s protest are invalid, uneffective, and simply unintelligent in the fight for obtaining justice and equity for individuals of color. His letter has become one of the most profound pieces of literature of the 20th century, as King uses vivid examples and eloquent rhetorical devices to counter all nine arguments.
First, the SCLC confirmed that Birmingham had been practicing institutionalized racism, and then attempted to negotiate with white business leaders there. When those negotiations broke down because of promises the white men broke, the SCLC planned to protest through “direct action.” Before beginning protests, however, they underwent a period of “self-purification,” to determine whether they were ready to work nonviolently, and suffer indignity and arrest. When they decided they could, they then prepared to protest. King was met with unusually harsh conditions in the Birmingham jail.
Moreover, King uses these three rhetorical elements to express the treatment African Americans faced, the unjust laws by using examples back in history to show that these laws were not right at all, and his reason as to why he is in Birmingham due to the racial inequality whites have shown towards negroes. King main idea of his letter is “Injustice anywhere will be a threat to justice everywhere.” (King 1) Therefore, King is using this letter as a way of saying we have to protest racism and injustice, but we cannot do it violently because then that will be considered unjust too. Martin Luther King uses a tone of righteousness to talk about the right versus the wrong and explaining why what he is doing is correct.
In the “letter from Birmingham Jail” by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., he uses pathos, logos and rhetorical devices such as imagery, sarcasm and biblical allusions to show how his work of nonviolent protests are smart and how Birmingham has violated their civil rights. He expresses himself in his letter by explaining why he can not wait any longer because of the countless murders, the unsolved bombing, lynching, and violence towards the black community. MLK Jr. came across a statement which was a call for unity by eight Clergymen while being in the Birmingham city jail because of him not having a license to protest. In response to the eight Clergymen, Dr. king decided to write a historical letter letting them know that freedom was not an option because of the false promise and the continued violence. The letter is written to inform the people who are against, neutral and with segregation that it is time to take action and prove to the clergymen why he will stand up for what is right.
Rhetorical Analysis: Letter from Birmingham City Jail “I think I should give my reason for being in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the argument of outsider’s coming in (King,1963).” Dr. King was the leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and he was one of the most visible spokesperson. Dr. King wrote “Letter from Birmingham City Jail” for the purpose of explaining why he was in a Birmingham, Alabama, jail and also talking about segregation and how hard it was on people. Dr. King’s letter shows how hard he was fighting for freedom, and how horrendous segregation was.
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.
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.
Amidst the intense Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested and put in solitary confinement for peacefully protesting racial discrimination and injustice in Birmingham, Alabama. It was during this time that Dr. King, refusing to sit idly by, wrote his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” one of the most inspiring documents in history. With his respectful nature, humility, compassion, optimism, and determination, King responded to a group of white Alabama clergymen who had condemned the civil rights protests as extreme in their open letter, “A Call for Unity.” Although his letter was directed towards a small group of eight men, his words eventually reached the minds and hearts of the entire country. Throughout the letter, Dr. King does a tremendous job of supporting his argument with the three elements of Aristotle’s rhetorical appeal.
Othello starts to internalize the racist slander and now associates his reputation with his own skin; something dirty and stained. When Othello feels like he no longer has control of Desdemona he becomes unreasonable and vengeful, “arise, black vengeance, from thy hollow cell” (3.3.48). Othello believes that Desdemona is unloyal. He becomes angry and wants to get revenge on her for ruining his reputation. In Act 5, Othello becomes so Irrational, aggressive, and filled with hate that he kills the love of his life.
The Letter from Birmingham Jail proclaims the truth of black suffering out to the white community readers. In Birmingham, it is well known that racial injustice has taken a widespread over the black general public; they are faced with police brutality and the consequences of unjust treatments. Consequently, there are more unsolved bombings of black homes and churches in Birmingham compared to other cities in the country. Their own church, where their family, neighbors, and friends come to peacefully worship were targeted by a hate group. When the victimized communities seek justice, they are ignored.
In the letter from Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King Jr addresses his audience by defining what qualifies an action or law to be just and unjust. He describes a just law as a “code that squares away with the moral law or the law of God” (King). Then he describes the unjust law as being “a code that is out of the harmony with the moral law” (King). Kings definitions compare well with the dictionary definitions because both agree that just laws are based on a moral code. He uses the strategy of examples and counter examples in order to define both of the words and give his audience a clear understanding of their meaning.
To Americans and many others around the world, the U.S. is the face of what should be a “free society,” not including every society’s minor flaws. Maybe it’s because I’m barely entering the brink of my social awareness as a U.S. citizen or maybe is it more due to recent threats to our freedom as Americans, but now more than in the past decade or so, the media has brought the image of huge protests, riots, and demonstrations into the spotlight. And unfortunately, more often than not, many of these events result in violence, aggression, and opposition. Nonetheless, people’s intentions and visions of victory surely do not aim to end in chaos and harm to our societies.