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Letter From Birmingham Jail, By Martin Luther King Jr.

867 words - 3 pages

Writers attempt to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip. Martin Luther King in his letter, “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, uses this technique. In Mr. King’s letter his creativity and intricate usage of diction creates a meaningful letter. Not only does he illustrate picturesque ideas, but also, he uses rhetorical appeal and specific language and style to portray his message. His purpose is to inform the clergyman about Negros patiently waiting for the abolition of segregation and resentment toward the African American people.
Mr. King explains the hypocrisy that the clergymen are partaking in by referring to church ideology. Most of the common people are Christians and by their common teachings, it specifically states the principles that they abide by in their creed. However, the unjust laws that the majority are forming against the minority goes against their biblical practices of the Christian faith. Mr. King impudently states:
So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary’s hill, three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime—the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth, and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment.
He purposely conveys the message acknowledging Jesus Christ, because Christians where treating his corresponding African American’s immorally wrong and participating in sinful acts such as lynching. Mr. King knew that Jesus Christ is the most significant figure in the philosophical approach of the church. Therefore, he uses valid explanations to why they should eliminate unjust laws and attempts to induce feelings of guilt.
Not only does he give valid explanations to exclude unjust laws, but he also gives legitimate reasons why segregation is sociologically, politically, and economically immoral. “…there is nothing wrong in having an ordinance which requires a permit for a parade. But such an ordinance becomes unjust when it is used to maintain segregation and to deny citizens the First-Amendment….” In this statement, Mr. King indicates the Constitution is an irrelevant piece of paper, because the collection of rules that authority (majority) imposes on the minority by manipulation. He even elaborates on the case in 1954, Plessy vs. Ferguson, which states that ‘separate but equal’ is constitutional. However, economically this paradoxical statement is...

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