Analysis Of Dr. King's Letter From A Birmingham Jail

Good Essays

When it comes to racism, any person of any skin color or ethnic background can commit the immoral act of racism. However, as shown in Dr. King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” it is often African Americans who have prejudices held against them. This is true today as well as around 55 years ago when “Letter” was written. King’s response letter to the critiques of eight clergymen was able to assume “a multitude of perspectives.”(Patton 1) Dr. King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” is effective at convincing the audience of the urgency and necessity of the Civil Rights Movement because he uses his own credibility as a Reverend, addressing the religious men and others of the white majority who do not believe his cause is justified, and …show more content…

There is much speculation as to who the audience of “Letter” is. Some analysts say it is the clergymen; others say it is white militants in America as a whole. Michael Osborn made this distinction when he said, “Earlier critics have observed that there actually are two audiences for the “Letter,” the ostensible and the actual.”(31) The ostensible audience is the eight clergy mean while the actual audience is moderate, white Americans. The ostensible audience’s main argument against King’s “Letter” is that the Civil Rights Movement should wait because the timing of the movement isn’t right. Dr. King points out the flaw in this logic by stating, “Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct-action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation.”(2) No revolution, violent or peaceful, is going to be acceptable in the eyes of the oppressors. To get through to the clergymen, the African Americans couldn’t have started violent riots. That would have been too uncivilized. When it comes to civil injustice, “public discourse is almost always a response.”(Patton 2) The clergymen, being white men who have never suffered from segregation or oppression, couldn’t possibly understand the sense of urgency for the equal rights of black

Get Access