A Comparison of Letter From Birmingham City Jail and I Have a Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Martin Luther King Jr., one of the greatest speakers for the Black

civil rights movement, had written many great works in his time. Two of his

pieces stand out as his greatest works, Letter from Birmingham City Jail; a

letter written from a jail in Birmingham where he was arrested for

demonstrating peacefully, to clergymen who didn't agree with his views, and

I Have a Dream; a speech given by King in front of the Washington Memorial

at a huge civil rights tea party. Both works convey the same message: the

time has come where Black Americans will not stand for civil injustices any

longer. The way in which the works are written, however, are different, for

one is a letter, to be read by a few, and the
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Not

only is this a show of intellect, but it is as well an appeal to the senses

of his audience, for they are, after all, clergymen, and he has justified

his actions on their terms.

By the fifth paragraph, he has stopped trying to use rhetorical

devices, and is well into stating the cold hard facts about the injustice

of Birmingham. He states facts that were obvious to his audience, but they

were unwilling to admit to themselves. Amongst them were the fact that

"Birmingham [was] probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the

United States.", and that "Its ugly record of brutality [was] widely

known." Not only that, but that "Negroes [had] experienced grossly unjust

treatment in the courts. There [had] been more unsolved bombings of Negro

homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the

nation.".These are the main point of the letter, the injustices that King

is trying to get rid of.

He goes on to explain how he could understand how they might be

upset their " . . . willingness to break laws. This is certainly a

legitimate concern.". By saying so, he has express a concern that he really

does care about what they think. So, he goes on to explain that " . . .

there are two types of laws: just and unjust." He also explains that he " .

. . would be the first to advocate obeying just laws.One has not only a

legal but a moral responsibility to obey just
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