Letter From a Birmingham Jail Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote an open letter to his fellow clergymen in April, 1963 after bring arrested for protesting segregation in Birmingham, Alabama. His letter was in response to statements the clergymen had made condemning and criticizing King for his “unwise and untimely”protests (King 1). In “A Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” King used the methods of ethos, pathos, and logos not only to justify the actions that led to his arrest, but also to admonish those who sympathized with his plight, yet did little to change the inequality that existed. King recognized that before he could persuade his audience to understand his point of view, he needed to gain their trust. His ethical appeal, or ethos, is evident when he writes: “I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth” (1).
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” is an example of a rhetorical text that is centered on ethos. King Jr.’s letter is a response to “Public Statement by Eight Alabama Clergymen,” which was written about the civil rights protests that King Jr. had led in Birmingham, Alabama, causing him to be in jail. In his letter, King Jr. addresses the concerns that the clergymen had about his motives and intentions in Birmingham. A rhetorical analysis of “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” shows that through his use of effective logic, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has a way of re-creating the ethos that was taken away from him in “Public Statement by Eight Alabama Clergymen”. Specifically, the arguments that King Jr. uses to defend his untimeliness, his willingness to break laws, and his extreme actions are appropriate for the audience and help him build credibility, which ideally will move his audience to action.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was imprisoned for breaking a court ruling while leading a nonviolent direct-action protest program against segregation. While imprisoned, King wrote an open response; “Letter from Birmingham Jail”. This letter was addressed to his fellow clergymen, but he wanted the entire world to read it. King elaborately explains; why he was in Birmingham, why he believed change must take place immediately, and what he planned to do to help bring about this change. In his prodigious letter, King creates a vigorous yet respectful response to a criticism made by eight Clergymen from Birmingham, Alabama.
This letter appeared in the Birmingham Newspaper. In response, Martin Luther King drafted a document that would mark the turning point of the Civil Rights movement and provide enduring inspiration to the struggle for racial equality. King's “Letter from Birmingham Jail” strives to justify the desperate need for nonviolent direct action, the absolute immorality of unjust laws together with what a just law is, as well as, the increasing probability of the “Negro” resorting to extreme disorder and bloodshed, in addition to his utter disappointment with the Church who, in his opinion, had not lived up to their responsibilities as people of God. King's justification to the eight clergymen for protesting segregation begins with a profound explanation of their actions, “Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue”. The actions of the African American people are overdue and very well planned as King had explained in the letter.
Rhetorical Analysis Martin Luther King’s “Letter from the Birmingham Jail”, published in 1964 in his own book Why We Can’t Wait, addresses and explains his current situation to the clergymen of Alabama. On April 12, 1963 Dr. King was arrested in the streets of Birmingham, Alabama for contempt of court and parading without a permit during a protest. He composed this letter while he sat in the Birmingham Jail. Dr. King begins his letter by addressing the clergymen’s statements of his actions as “unwise and untimely”. He informs the clergymen of his views and the reasons for his “direct action” on the issue of desegregation.
Martin Luther King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail", was written by King in response to a critical "Call For Unity" by a group of white Alabama clergymen in Birmingham. The clergymen were critical of King for meddling in the affairs of their town. King's response was that he had every right to fight injustice in the country that he lived in. Martin Luther King wrote this letter in 1963 from his jail cell. In this letter King proclaims that the laws of the government against blacks are intolerable and that civil disobedience should be used as a tool of freedom.
Upon release, Malcolm X rapidly gained prominence in the Nation of Islam and traveled the United States, founding new mosques in many cities. During his travels, he became acquainted with public speaking while trying to gain converts, and advocated for a black uprising. Unintentionally gaining more attention than the founder himself, Malcolm gained the position of National Minister, only to have a falling out with the Nation of Islam after a scandal and disagreement on how to best draw in black support. After the falling out, he founded Muslim Mosque, Inc., an organization that calls on all African-Americans, regardless of religion, to help take a stand against white racism. In his autobiography, Malcolm X continued his controversial, yet honest arguments.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s letter “A Letter from Birmingham,” was a good example of a counter argument from “A Call to Unity” by eight white clergymen. His inspiration for writing the letter came from clergymen’s unjust proposals affecting African-Americans. Dr. King effectively created his argument by using logos, pathos and ethos. What also helped his case were his personal experiences. He lived during the time where segregation was everywhere in the United States, not as a white man, but as an African-American.
Thus the reason the letter is was written by him. “ I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their "thus saith the Lord" far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco-Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.
Victoria Lopez English 1101 December 10, 2012 Rhetorical Analysis Martin Luther King’s “Letter from the Birmingham Jail”, published in 1964 in his own book Why We Can’t Wait, addresses and explains his current situation to the clergymen of Alabama. On April 12, 1963 Dr. King was arrested in the streets of Birmingham, Alabama for contempt of court and parading without a permit during a protest. His purpose of the letter is to inform the clergymen of his views and the reasons for his “direct action” on the issue of desegregation. Martin Luther King Jr. was the most important voice of the American civil rights movement, which worked for equal rights for all. He was famous for using nonviolent resistance to overcome injustice, and he never got tired of trying to end segregation laws.