Rhetorical Analysis of Martin Luther King Jr's Letter from Birmingham Jail

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Alex Dunham WRA 125 Professor Patrick LeBeau 23 September 2004 Rhetorical Analysis of Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” is a brilliant example of a rhetorical essay. From 1955 to 1968, in Southern America, black people were harshly segregated and discriminated against. Dr King used his methods of nonviolent civil disobedience to rally the oppressed negro community and try to show America that segregation is wrong and could no longer be stood for. King wrote the letter to southern clergyman from a Birmingham jail, where he was sent after a peaceful parade to stop segregation. Authorities charged him with lacking the possession of a parade permit. The rhetorical genius, along with the passionate way this letter was written, makes it a powerful, interesting read. Dr Martin Luther King Jr appealed to all three main tools of persuasion--pathos, ethos, and logos--to convince his audience of eight southern clergymen that segregation is wrong and should be abolished. Using multiple effective appeals to ethos, logos, and pathos, King succeeds in being very persuasive in arguing that the segregation of black people, or any people for that matter, should be abolished in the south. King’s letter from a Birmingham prison was not just written randomly. Dr King wrote it after he caught wind that eight clergymen wrote a public statement asking that black citizens of the south cease demonstrating and rallying to stop oppression. They suggested instead that white and black citizens of Alabama come together and peacefully negotiate on what to do to improve the problem. King had a problem with this. He recalled a while before that letter when negotiation did occur to stop racial issues and none of what was negotiated stuck. When reading this statement, King decided it was time to write a strongly worded
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