Letter From Birmingham Jail

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Letter from Birmingham Jail Rhetorical Analysis In “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, Martin Luther King Jr. uses many different types of strategies to convince his reader bout his views on cultural segregation. King’s letter is a direct response to the eight white clergymen of Alabama. They believed that these civil rights movements should be fought in the courtrooms and not on the public streets of Birmingham. They referred to King’s action of protest as “’unwise and untimely’” ( qtd in King 289 ). Rather than writing a letter agreeing with the clergymen, King arouses his readers by bringing ethics, emotions, and logic to provoke thought and push his opinion about civil right protest. Right from the start, King makes brilliant use of ethos in his letter. He constitutes his credibility by stating that he is the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. That shows he is in charge of operating organizations in every state in the south and that he is also affiliated with 85 other organizations. One of those organizations just happens to be the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. It is quite ironic for him to mention them due to the fact that they are in Birmingham, Alabama, the most segregated city in the nation. Another example King uses to fill his letter with ethos is his allusion to Jesus Christ. King relates his current situation with something influenced by the bible. “Isn’t this like condemning Jesus because his unique God-consciousness and never-ceasing devotion to God’s will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion” ( King 295 )? Jesus is quite well known and respected worldwide, and for King to mention Jesus to these eight clergymen was a clever move. This appeals to many other readers of this letter as well because many people in the United States have a religious background. Therefore, King is able to capture the emotions of not
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