Ethical Appeals In Letter From Birmingham Jail

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On April 16, 1963 Martin Luther King Jr. wrote a lengthy letter from his jail cell called “Letter from Birmingham Jail” to his fellow clergymen regarding their allegations that the peaceful protests he lead was not only untimely, but was also unwise. Reverend King outlined in his letter three major appeals. Ethos, is an ethical appeal with a sense of right versus wrong. Logos is a logical appeal with a common sense approach. Lastly he used pathos, with the use of sympathy and empathy. The primary literacy characteristic used most frequently and most effectively by Dr. King in this literary work was his use of ethos. His use of ethical appeals can be seen throughout his letter, he was able to use them purposefully and strategically.…show more content…
Dr. King equates this ethical conflict in paragraph twenty three to “condemning the robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery”. “Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber”. Dr. King makes a very compelling argument. He has violated an ordinance but also has a right as a citizen for peaceful assembly under the First- Amendment…show more content…
He continues in paragraph thirty six that “there was a time when the church was very powerful. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society”. Reverend King was able to make a valid point that churches that once were the primary force for moral and ethical influence have now become passive and more complaisant with their roles in society. This could have possibility been in an effort by the church to become impartial and have an amplified following. On the same token, their supposed impartial stances might have just made them seem partial. The clergymen who where appalled by an ordinance violation where not in the least troubled by the continued segregation of whites and blacks. In Reverend King’s closing paragraph forty six he states to his fellow clergymen “I hope this letter finds you strong in your faith. I also hope that circumstances will soon make it possible for me to meet each of you, not as an integrationist or a civil rights leader, but as a fellow clergymen and a Christian brother”. Dr. King signs his letter “yours for cause of peace and Brotherhood (47), Martin Luther King Jr. (48).”
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