Analysis of Martin Luther King's “Letter from Birmingham Jail”

973 WordsNov 26, 20104 Pages
Martin Luther King Jr, an civil rights activist, fought for the rights of African Americans in 1963. King organized various non-violent demonstrations in Birmingham, Alabama that resulted in his arrest. While in jail, King received a letter from eight Alabama clergyman explaining their distress and opposition to King and his followers actions. This letter occasioned his reply and caused King to write a persuasive letter justifying his actions and presence in Birmingham. Although King’s reply was addressed to the Alabama clergyman, its target audience was the “white moderate”. King understood that if he gained support from the average, indifferent white American that the civil rights movement would reach it’s goals much faster. In his…show more content…
By using a biblical analogy King creates a common place between himself and the clergyman. A place where they can relate to a common idea, and have an understanding of what King was trying accomplish while he was in Birmingham. The readers of Kings letter, eight clergyman, study the bible and respect it. They have deeply studied what apostles accomplished in the past and appreciate that their actions were for the greater good of mankind. If they compare King to the apostles, they would put more trust into his actions. Due to the religious background many “white moderates“ posses, when they here words such as “gospel” or “Jesus Christ they automatically assume what King is speaking of is good natured and morally ethical. They understand the terms that King uses. By constructing a commonplace by using biblical analogies King gains the respect of the clergyman and “white moderate” by letting the commonality of their religious background make King appear to be good natured and respectable. An emotional antidote about, “…the stinging darts of segregation”(King). influences the clergyman’s conscious molding them into a more persuadable state and initiate an emotional uprising from the average white southerner. King uses antagonizing pathos through his antidote of a father and his young daughter, “…your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can not go to a public amusement park advised on
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