What does it mean to form a more just society for the common good? I will be examining Dr. Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” as well as Gustavo Gutierrez’s essay, “The Option for the Poor Arises from Love of Christ.” Dr. King examines the facets of social injustice through a letter that he wrote while imprisoned for a nonviolent public protest. King’s letter is in response to a letter from eight fellow clergymen. In the letter from the clergymen they criticize King’s due process in seeking justice and his social injustice movement, so King responds with what I believe to be one of the greatest examples of a man who personifies what it means to form a more just society for the common good. He does not only speak on his behalf, but he speaks out all of humanity. Likewise, Gustavo Gutierrez examines specifically the poor in a similar manner, but believes that these “poor” people have found the ultimate meaning in life and we should all seek to have that same spiritual connection to God, for it would make our society a better place. The preferential option for the poor is seeking a deeper connection to God by bringing justice to light. Gutierrez and Dr. King both exemplify men who have truly set an example on how to form a more just society for the common good of humanity. Dr. King begins his letter deliberately and without emotion, he addresses their first criticism of him, which is him being an outsider and that he has no place in Birmingham. This is where
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Martin Luther King’s inspiration for writing his, “Letter from Birmingham Jail” was mainly to appeal to an undeniable injustice that occurred during his time. His letter was in response tos eight white clergymen, who objected to King protesting in Birmingham. Dr. King effectively crafted his counterargument after analyzing the clergymen’s unjust proposals and then he was able to present his rebuttal. Dr. King effectively formed his counterargument by first directly addressing his audience, the clergymen and then using logos, pathos and egos to present his own perspective on his opponent’s statements.
Dr. King’s claim is obvious and present, clearly presenting the main point of the argument as being in Birmingham because of the injustice toward the Negro community. Quoted directly from the letter, Dr. King states, “there can be no gain-saying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this [Birmingham, Alabama] community” (277). This quote demonstrates the statement of claim found directly from the text itself. Continuing on, the claim is supported by multiple subclaims like unjust treatment in the courts, unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham, and unfulfilled negotiation plans with merchants who promised to remove multiple stores’ humiliating racial signs. Next, support throughout the letter is apparent in order to uphold
In paragraphs 12-14 of “Letter From Birmingham Jail”, Dr. King begins addressing the clergymen’s belief that the peaceful demonstrations conducted by him and his associates were untimely. King starts answering questions frequently heard by opposing or moderate forces, as well as essentially denouncing the resistance to desegregation. King then introduced the relationship between the oppressor and the oppressed; concluding that the oppressor is not inclined to act on things that do not directly affect them. Therefore, providing a platform of his argument as to why blacks could no longer wait to be given their basic human rights. Action needed to take place because fair treatment was no longer a hope to be given, it had to be taken.
He starts the letter with a very calm and reflective tone. He states “ Since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticism are sincerely set forth, I want to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.” By addressing them in a calm manner he is easing them into his argument with respect making them more likely to engage. His tone shifts from calm to passionate and reflective. He states that “we know through painful experiences that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” His tone is meant to demonstrate the struggle African Americans face. Through his passionate stand he is urging the audience to understand the main reason behind his efforts, hopefully moving them to action. He is also standing up for them as a leader working insufferably for change. Doctor King’s tone is incredibly passionate and outraged when he states “I wish you had commended the negro sit inners and demonstrators of Birmingham for their sublime courage, their willingness to suffer, and their amazing discipline in the midst of great provocation”.
seems to address the entire country and whoever reads the letter, instead of his main audience who are the eight white clergymen. This letter was written to certainly impact anyone who read it and to persuade people and the clergymen to take effect. Throughout “Letter from Birmingham Jail” Martin Luther King Jr. remains calm, although he is in jail for leading a nonviolent protest for equality and ending segregation. His tone is urgent but remains gentle. King remains stern and speaks about his cause and what he believes in. King's main themes of “Letter from Birmingham Jail” is justice and action. Martin Luther King does a great job convincing his audience that justice was lacking, and action needs to occur. When reading the letter, the reader is convinced King presents a very effective and persuasive argument. King tries to convince his readers that the time to act is now. Dr. King uses a lot of ethos in his letter by using his audiences’ morals and ethics and evidence that supports his argument to convince the clergymen and people reading that segregation is wrong and the matter needs to be addressed. Dr. King also uses pathos, emotion, to try to appeal to his audience to make his letter more effective. Some examples of pathos throughout the letter where Dr. King tells about elderly African Americans being mistreated, imprisoned people being mistreated, King also uses his young child's bitterness toward
Finally, racism was a major theme, and it was even the cause of the letter’s writing. For example, Dr. King said that though “it is unfortunate that so-called demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham at this time, but . . . it is even more unfortunate that the white power structure of this city left the Negro community with no other alternative” (78), describing how it was racism that forced his actions which led him to be jailed. Dr. King further described the immense racism present at the time by noting that “There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in this nation” (78).
One appeal shown in the letter is ethos. Ethos means to convince the audience of the authors work or character. In the letter Dr. King relates himself as being as an incredible, and smart individual by appealing to the reader to ethos. One example of this is how he starts off the letter with “My Dear Fellow Clergymen” (King 1) By him starting off the letter this way he is putting himself on the same “level” as the clergymen. He is sending out the message how he is no less than them and how they are no better than him. Another example of ethos shown is when he says, “I am here because I have organizational ties here. Beyond this, I am in Birmingham because
The civil rights movement has caused many issues for African Americans, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. writes “Letter From Birmingham Jail” as a response to the clergymen who share a different view with segregation. King placed his views from the idea that everyone is equal, rather than one is better because of their skin color. His letter from Birmingham jail shared many points, with the ending of segregation being the main goal. With his familiar clergymen with disagreements, he rebukes their letters with his take on the civil rights movement. His letter has an amazing pull from different views that unites America as one. Dr. King uses incites from the black community to share their side of segregation, while also presenting an argument using ethics, facts and emotion that establish his letter as unique.
The author, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., wrote this letter in an effort to stifle the plight of injustice that has taken over the city of Birmingham. Also, King wrote this letter "in response to a public statement of concern and caution issued by eight white religious leaders of the South" (King). These men, called the Birmingham clergymen, published an open letter criticizing the actions of Dr. King and the SCLC. Also, King is talking to the people who represent the power class and dominant group, but shows that they support the foundations of justice. As the letter progresses, King makes it clear that the audience is a much larger group, particularly white and Christian. Throughout the letter, King plays toward Christian morality by continually asking whether "just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law, or the law of God" (King) ? and ends the essay by asking God to forgive him if he has offended anyone. By continually showing his faith in God, King strategically tries to connect with the so called "Christians" that the Birmingham clergymen claim themselves as. To achieve this, King structured and
The intent of Dr. King was to address his reasoning for being in Birmingham and to expound upon what the clergyman called unwise and untimely. In the initiation of the letter he explains his position in society. He was the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, and a civil rights activist who fought for equality of all regardless of ethnicity. His main focus was to induce equality into Birmingham instead of segregation. His position was the voice of the black community and he was known by many, including the president of the United States. He was also a pastor who had political and biblical knowledge and understanding like his “fellow clergyman.” In the
Martin Luther King’s adherence towards peace and especially social justice is clearly shown in “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” In this letter King writes with passion and conviction. Through this suggestive yet powerful letter Martin Luther King uses various rhetorical devices to get his point across by saying “justice too long delayed, is justice denied.” Through the clergymen’s arguments and use of ethos, pathos, and logos, he demonstrates to them that they need to take action immediately.
In the letter, “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. informs the readers of the reasons how and why he is giving a nonviolent protest to racism. King begins the letter stating how he was invited to Birmingham and how he is trying to fight against the “injustice.” In his letter King continues on to explain that the black men have waited to long for justice and they are still fighting it in the present today through the unjust laws. The white churches were brought up negatively through the letter numerous times especially since the letter was specifically written to the clergy members. Dr. King ends his letter in personal hope that the clergy men will see what is wrong in the overall picture of injustice in Birmingham and
Martin Luther King Jr. directed his letter to the white clergymen of Birmingham, in a response to their newspaper article criticizing him for his actions. At the
Martin Luther King Jr. writes the Clergymen that have written him a letter disputing his actions in Birmingham. King is disturbed and offended by the Clergymen disagreeing with his purpose in Birmingham. King say he normally does not respond to criticism because it would waste to much precious time, but since these were men of good will he wanted to give his answers to their statements. In King's letter he appeals to many emotions as pathos, ethos, and logos to appeal to his audience.
## Considering Dr. King is writing to clergymen, his emotional appeal may not have only been to elicit sympathy or empathy from his detractors, but cause some shame as well, when he expresses his disappointment with them. He indicates that because of their religious beliefs, they should be taking a proactive stance on the side of justice, rather than supporting the status quo because it is orderly (King, 1963).