Rhetorical Analysis Of Martin Luther King Jr.'s Letter

1245 Words5 Pages

Martin Luther King Jr. was an American Baptist minister who became well known through his involvement and leadership in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and the 1960s. On April 12, 1963, eight clergymen from Alabama issued and signed a statement that included subtle accusations of hatred and violence by civil rights supporters and activists. Criticisms such as demonstrations being “unwise and untimely”(King 1), were made and directed towards Martin Luther King Jr.’s actions although he was a pacifist and valued peace. In response to the criticisms, King composed one of the most significant documents in American history which was an extensive letter addressed to the clergymen while he was spending time in a jail cell at the Birmingham …show more content…

successfully uses appeals to emotion and establishes credibility from the first line of his letter. He instantly becomes credible and respected as he opens his letter addressed to the clergymen. King first communicates by writing, “My dear fellow clergymen” (King 1). Using the specific word choice, “dear fellow”, King establishes credibility and a connection between himself and the critics by relating to them as a church minister. Opening the letter with a connection allows Martin Luther King Jr. to persuade his audience to understand his responses to the criticisms and take them into consideration because he is responsible for the activists involved in his group. In addition, Martin Luther King Jr, appeals to the emotion of guilt when he begins to describe instances of hardships that African Americans face. Providing an example of questions posed by African American families, “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?” (King 6), introduces the audience to a deeper connection and reveals the pain that African Americans encounter while being surrounded by a white society. By presenting the pain through family instances and children, King is able to evoke a feeling of guilt and sorrow in the clergymen because of his child’s innocent confusion and

Open Document