Dr. Martin Luther King was an educated man who could impact communities through the use of rhetoric elements while being oppressed behind bars. Within his letter from Birmingham Jail, Dr. King was able to captivate his readers by using the elements of Ethos, Pathos and Logos. He uses these three elements interchangeably through this letter while addressing several clergymen who criticized his actions during the Birmingham protests. Dr. King’s wordplay throughout his letter to these clergymen was intentional to be read for an universal audience. His actions in Birmingham was a clear indication that his fight for justice wouldn’t be stopped despite the oppression he and/or the African American community would face during these historical protests.
The concept of Ethos can be best described as an appeal to ethics, which Dr. King utilizes to an extent in his letter. One example of Dr. King using Ethos within his letter was when he said “You may well ask: “Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?” You are quite right in calling for negotiation.” (King 2). In this instance, his ethical stand on justice included having to take “direct action” to get his point across to the clergymen. His stance on oppression within the African American community in conjunction with his christian faith provided a foundation in his methods of “fighting back”. Dr. King fought for his people because he felt it was his moral duty to fight for his fellow “brothers and sisters”.
Along with Ethos, Dr. King also implemented Pathos, which is used to create an emotional response to convince his/her audience. An example of this element utilized within his letter is when he mentions that “We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional...