Inside the Letter of Birmingham Jail

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Phillip Young Ms. Parks En-1103-24 21 October 2014 Inside Letter from Birmingham Jail “Letter from Birmingham Jail” is a letter written by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. addressed to eight well-respected clergymen about their recent criticism of Dr. King’s non-violent resistance campaign. King uses rhetorical strategies ethos, logos and pathos to defend his position on non-violent resistance to combat racism in the south. He uses ethos to build his credibility and trustworthiness, logos to add facts and logic to his argument and pathos to grab his reader’s attention through emotional appeal. With all of these strategies combine, King forms a strong argument to defend his motives to his fellow clergymen and persuade them that “an unjust law is no law at all”. (St. Augustine Pg. 152) In order to present himself as a trust worthy and credible source King uses forms of ethos to appeal to the eight clergymen and also to relate to them on a more personal level. For example, King opens the letter with “My Dear Fellow Clergymen”. Right from the beginning King establishes common ground between himself and his targeted audience. King is also a man of the church and chooses to express this before starting his letter so that the Clergymen know that the following composition is coming from someone with the same occupation as themselves. This strategy of establishing mutuality is brilliant because it is always easier communicating with someone who shares a common interest. Another example of ethos in Kings Address to the clergymen is when King is says: Was not Jesus and extremist for love: ‘love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.’ Was not Amos an extremist for justice: ‘Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.’ Was not Paul and extremist

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