Letter from a Birmingham Jail

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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). In any persuasive argument, an individual has a better chance of convincing others to listen if they begin by showing they are understanding and fair. With this statement, whether King really believed it or not, he set his audience at ease by saying he knew they had good intentions. To further utilize ethos, King established his credibility by outlining his qualifications. He wrote, “ I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia” (1). This statement not only gave his credentials, but it also provided evidence that he was someone of rank and should be respected. Stansbury 2 The Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights had invited King to Birmingham to take part in nonviolent demonstrations. Birmingham was perhaps the most segregated city in the country during this time, which made it a very relevant city to stage a protest in. King outlined these facts for

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