Summary Of Letter From Birmingham Jail

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is considered as one of the most influential Civil Rights activists during the twentieth century in a period of prejudices and racism were still prevalent. King fought against discrimination of all people, but often found himself campaigning against the unfair treatment of African Americans during the mid-twentieth century. In 1963, King found himself in an Alabama jail in the city of Birmingham. He was arrested for being a part of a nonviolent demonstration without a permit. King had been protesting because of continuous unfair treatment of African Americans in Birmingham, Alabama. During his stint in jail, King wrote a "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" in which he responded to eight Alabama clergymen who had criticized …show more content…

In the very first line, King states “while confined here in the Birmingham city jail” (King 1) to set an emotional tone by showing that his imprisonment was not warranted. King later explains that the demonstration was justified with another emotional play by claiming the African Americans in the community “were victims of a broken promise” and that their “hopes had been blasted” (King 2). King explains this was because they previously met with the Birmingham economic community in September to negotiate certain conditions to help resolve the racial issues. King asserts the promises of those conditions were not kept. Though King’s use of emotional appeals are abundant, King’s most potent example may come at the end of his letter when …show more content…

Just as he did with emotional appeals, King plays on the clergymen’s ethics in the opening paragraph by stating, “I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth” (King 1). Rather than immediately discrediting the clergymen’s views, King wisely establishes the foundations for an ethical and cordial letter. This is important. By attacking the clergymen from the start, King risks losing his attended audience for the rest of the letter. But by starting with that quote, King is able to display his credibility. This will help set the tone for the rest of the paper. King additionally displays his credibility by mentioning that “I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference” (King 1). This signals to the clergymen that King’s profession is similar to theirs and they logically should have similar ethical standards. King further drives this idea home at the end of the letter by voicing that he hopes to meet each of the eight clergymen, “not as an integrationist or a civil rights leader but as a fellow clergyman and a Christian brother” (King

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