Essay On “Letter From Birmingham Jail”

829 words - 4 pages

            In Dr. Martin Luther Kings Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” Kings justifies his methods of achieving negotiations known as direct action. He solidifies his arguments by alluding to the Birmingham local governments inability to solve the daily injustices suffered by African Americans. His use of imagery and word choice convey an emotional response that challenges the clergymen to see the topic from his perspective. King’s persuasive style of writing includes logical arguments and allusions to respected historical figures.  King’s use of powerful images of the daily plight endured by African Americans, invoke an emotional response from the audience.  His ability to ...view middle of the document...

He comes to the realization that he is left with  “ no alternative expect to prepare for direct action” (88).  For negations to take place both sides of the conflict must be willing to cooperate and uphold the terms of the arrangement.
            King used his method of direct action to create nonviolent tension that he believed  was necessary for change to occur.  King makes parallels between his belief that tension in a community is “necessary for growth”(89)  Socrate’s belief that tension was necessary for growth in the mind. By alluding to Socrates, he places himself on the same level as one of history’s most respected figures, in turn giving credibility to his argument. King’s use of rhetorical devices such as “forcing the door open to negotiation” (90) coveys to the clergymen the reality and the importance in solving the injustices in Birmingham.  In addition Kings choice in words such as “crisis” and  “dramatize” appeal to the emotions and conjure up the sense that tension is needed in order to allow for change. He also uses lessons learned from the past to further support his decision to directly act. “We have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure” (90). Patience has never lead to justice, that is why direct action is needed.
            The clergymen suggest patience as a method of gaining social equality. King countered this suggestion by stating “freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor: it must be demand by...

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