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Letter From A Birmingham Jail: Wise And Timely

1205 words - 5 pages

Michael DarmozadehLetter From a Birmingham Jail: Wise and TimelyThe African-American Civil Rights Movement targeted towards outlawing racial discrimination against African Americans, and predominantly focused on creating equality among all individuals. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. particularly was one of the prominent figures of the movement. Due to the presence of injustice in Birmingham, Alabama, King planned a non-violent protest against racial segregation practiced by the city's government and downtown retailers. Unfortunately, his plans did not succeed and King was arrested. In response to the arrest, eight clergymen of the White Church of the South criticized Dr. King's work and accused him for breaking the law. While incarcerated in a Birmingham jail, Dr. King wrote an extensive rebuttal letter to the eight clergymen where he carefully argued the defense of civil disobedience as a means of obtaining civil liberties. In the letter, Dr. King effectively utilizes Aristotle's three primary persuasion modes, ethos, pathos, and logos, in order to support his concrete argument. King asserts his reliability through his authority and reputation, invokes emotions from the reader, and uses logic and evidence to support his argument.In the beginning of the letter, Dr. King's main intention is to prove to his opponents that he has sufficient authority to promote civil rights on behalf of his community. Dr. King indicates the reason in which he is in Birmingham, and argues against "outsiders coming in" by stating, "I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference"(299). The eight clergymen attempt to present him as an outsider, but King's counterargument presents himself as an insider. He shows that he isn't just a random individual that came to Birmingham and caused disobedience on the streets, but that he is the President of his conference. Simply put, Dr. King is a clergymen talking to other clergymen. Furthermore, Dr. King begins talking about prophets of the eighth century B.C., specifically Apostle Paul, and how he left his village and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the corners of the Greco-Roman world. He goes on to state, "Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macadonian call for aid"(299). Dr. King is stating that he, like Paul, is a prophet for freedom, and he is the chosen individual to tackle the immemorial injustice that were occurring. Ultimately, Dr. King erases any possible doubts that may be in the mind of the reader by establishing his authority when he explains that he is both a minister, and a representative for the African-American community.Dr. King invokes emotions from the readers by exposing them to the grimy reality of how the African-American community is treated. Moreover, he contends that, "Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly"(299). This statement grabs the attention of the reader at the beginning of the letter, and indicates that everyone is involved in...

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