Letter From Birmingham Jail Analysis

611 words - 3 pages

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote his famous “A Letter from the Birmingham Jail” on April 16, 1963 while he was imprisoned in the Birmingham Jail for being involved in nonviolent protests against segregation. The letter is directed at eight white clergymen from Alabama who were very cynical and critical towards African Americans in one of their statements. Throughout the letter, King maintains an understanding yet persistent tone by arguing the points of the clergymen and providing answers to any counterarguments they may have. In the letter, King outlines the goals of his movement and says that he will fight racial inequality wherever it may be. Dr. King uses the appeal three main rhetorical devices – ethos, logos, and pathos – in order to firmly, yet politely, argue the clergymen on the injustices spoken of in their statement.
King begins his letter by establishing his credibility to the clergymen in order to assist in making his arguments stronger. His first words to the clergymen are “My Dear Fellow Clergymen.” By addressing the men in this way, King is implying that he is equal to the men, not inferior to them. King introduces himself to the clergymen by saying he is the “president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state…[with] eighty-five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights” (paragraph 2). By informing the men of his position of power, King creates a strong foundation for the arguments he is presenting. King also makes allusions to sources such as the Bible, famous scholars, writers, and presidents throughout the letter. By doing so, King shows the men that he is more than an “average” African American; he is an educated man who is as intellectual on the subject of...

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