Letter from Birmingham Jail

276 WordsFeb 16, 20152 Pages
Martin Luther King Jr. was a primary leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 60s. During his incarceration due to protest, King wrote a response letter, “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, addressed to the clergyman of Birmingham who ridiculed King’s recent actions in a local newspaper; these clergymen called his actions “unwise and untimely”. In his letter, he doesn’t explain their false accusations, but defends the reasoning behind his own actions. His letter is a turning point in the Civil Rights Movement. King follows the “slow to speak and slow to become angry” lesson from the book of James in the Bible. Because of human nature, following this lesson is rare. King also uses his knowledge of the Bible and his faith in God throughout his letter; this style of writing is the most persuasive element of this letter. King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” is also commonly notorious for its fluent and influential use of different literary techniques-ethos, pathos and logos. Out of theses, he was extremely effective in the use of “pathos” –the use of feelings to appeal to the audience. King’s usage of Biblical examples and parables not only was a persuasive element but also help him create the emotion behind his writing; this aided in appealing the different audiences other than the clergyman. Martin Luther King built a strong “ethos” element because who would be affected of the segregation of the time period than an African American. Not only was he an advocate in the Civil Rights Movement, his family, friends, his neighbors, and himself were directly affect by the torment and mistreatment of the white

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