In the letter, “Letter from Birmingham Jail” written by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on April 16, 1963, Dr. King is answering criticism from white clergy men. King stumbled upon a statement in a newspaper while in jail and felt the need to write on it. He did it to explain why he was in jail. After all Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is a nonviolent protestor. Kings says “I am in Birmingham because in justice is here.” Dr. King wants to see a change. This paper will examine King’s uses of rhetorical devices to appeal to his audience. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s letter “Letter from Birmingham Jail” reveals all three rhetorical appeals. It appeals to ethos, logos and pathos.
The 1960s was a time when skin color was crucial, hate was inevitable, and where actions and words were uniform. Although accused of being an outsider, Martin Luther King Jr. was able to demonstrate his strengths and powerful influence even while confined in the walls of the Birmingham jail. The racial issues were addressed through his compelling and impassioned letter in reply to the eight prominent Alabama clergymen. Even during a time of racial injustice, King was able to establish many rhetorical strategies throughout his piece, specifically throughout paragraphs 45-50. Establishing logos and utilizing diction and syntax, are the three essential aspects that Martin Luther King Jr. used in order to portray the true message to the reader.
“The Letter From a Birmingham Jail” was written by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. while incarcerated in response to his fellow preachers telling him to be more patient in the pursuit of civil rights. The purpose of the letter is to explain the reasons that civil rights should be actively pursued through protest. MLK seeks to persuade the recipients of the letter to side with him in terms of pushing for equality as fast as possible. King uses anecdotes, anaphora, and imagery to increase both the emotional impact of the speech by showing the struggle that him and others have gone through, as well as the authority of King himself by showing that his views on the movement are very well thought out and backed by solid reasoning.
In 1963, the rights and the equality for African Americans was a cause constantly fought for. Protests and marches took place in order to push for a change in the society, to make a world where equality is achieved. In a Birmingham jail, sat a civil rights leader named Martin Luther King Jr.. Placed in this cell due to a protest held in Birmingham, Alabama when there was a court order stating it was not allowed, King wrote a letter that has become an influential and infamous piece of writing. This letter became known as, “The letter from a Birmingham Jail”. This letter calls out to the criticisms placed on King and confronts them all. In this letter, through rhetorical devices such as pathos, logos and ethos, and other rhetorical devices.
“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but rather, the silence of our friends. (MLK)” This quote from the inspirational civil rights leader captures the motivation behind his “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” He wrote this letter in 1963--after he had been jailed--in response to southern white clergy who called his actions “unwise and untimely.” Although MLK utilizes many varying appeals and devices, Kairos and anaphora are the most forceful because they pressure the white clergy and stimulate guilt in them.
Martin Luther King’s use of Pathos and Logos in “I have a Dream” showcases how he uses the devices to inspire others, compared to how he uses these rhetorical devices in “Letter From Birmingham Jail” to persuade the Clergymen. Martin Luther King, also referred to MLK, uses both Pathos and Logos to fit the audiences and occasions for each text. His uses of Pathos and Logos in these two texts are examples of how words can inspire change.
“I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character” was once said by the African-American rights activist, Martin Luther King Jr. He was arrested in the summer of 1961 for parading without a permit and wrote the infamous “Letter from Birmingham Jail” to white clergymen about rights of blacks. Although Martin Luther King Jr.'s various applications of rhetorical appeals and devices added to the "Letter From Birmingham Jail,” pathos and ethos had the most advantage to enhance the letter because they allowed the audience to have an emotional connection to African-American lives and shows the education and trustworthiness of MLK.
In his "Letter," Martin Luther King Jr.'s ability to effectively use pathos, or to appeal to the emotions of his audiences, is evident in a variety of places. More particularly in paragraph fourteen, King demonstrates his ability to inspire his fellow civil rights activists, invoke empathy in the hearts of white moderates, and create compassion in the minds of the eight clergyman to which the "Letter" is directed.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. expresses pathos in his letter by convincing his audience to believe the argument of segregation. He shows credibility through appealing to his audience by having them understand him as a religious figure. Martin Luther King Jr. expresses why the dangers of segregation should be put to an end for the eight white
In Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s Letter from the Birmingham Jail, he argues that segregation is inhumane and is hurting the American society as a whole. All the time and energy that goes into segregation is slowing down the American society’s progress to succeed as a nation. He uses several rhetoric strategies that help adopt a tone that is both personal and logical. King was able to incorporate the rhetoric triangle into his letter and still managed to address his arguments. While using pathos, ethos, and logos, Martin Luther King Jr. was able use the clergymen’s accusations to successfully promote his own views and opinions instead.
Civil Rights Activist Martin Luther King Jr in his persuasive letter, “letter from Birmingham jail” argues against segregation by using rhetorical devices. Martin Luther King Jr’s purpose is to express his struggles through segregation, he adopts an aggressive tone to get his point across to people in power.
In the text, “We do not believe that these days of new hope are days when extreme measures are justified in Birmingham.” The clergy men do not believe that this is the proper time or tactic to use extreme measure to get your point across. They do not believe in extremist measures here in Birmingham and classifies them as very unlikely to work. MLK claims that having extreme ideas isn't always a bad thing. MLK quotes, “If one recognizes this vital urge that has engulfed the negro community, one should readily understand why the public demonstrations are taking places.” MLK explains here that yes he is an extremist promoting his ideas of freedom through demonstrations, but people need to understand the problems of the black community. He also states,“If his repressed emotions are not released in nonviolent ways, they will seek expression through violence.” This explains that if extreme idea are not allowed to release their emotion through a safe way they will turn to eventually turn to violence. Lastly MLK says, “but thought I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label.” He states being an extremist isn't a bad thing. It means you are passionate about something you want and are not willing to give
Obviously, again my primary motivation for writing my Rhetorical Analysis of Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” is that this is a requirement for my English Composition Class. My heartfelt motivation for writing my Rhetorical Analysis is the respect I have for Martin Luther King’s intelligence and commitment that he displayed for the equality of the African American population. In analyzing “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”, I developed an even stronger understanding of the dedication Mr. King had for the disadvantaged poor black population and the injustice that victimized them on a daily basis.
In Martin Luther King Junior’s Letter from Birmingham Jail, MLK uses ethos, logos, and pathos powerfully and effectively to present his argument that the discrimination of African Americans all over the country is unbearable and should be outlawed forever. King wrote the letter in Birmingham, Alabama after a peaceful protest against segregation which was King’s way of reinforcing his belief that without forceful, direct actions (such as his own), true civil rights could never be achieved.
In 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. was thrown into jail due to participating in non-violent protests against racism and segregation in the city of Birmingham. There, he wrote the famous “Letter from the Birmingham Jail,” which became one of the most important letters in history of the American civil rights movement (Colaiaco 1). The open letter covered many points to King’s arguments for why the marches, protests, and other non-violent actions were necessary and justifiable. James Colaiaco analyzes the key components to the letter and the different ways Martin Luther King, Jr. used literary devices to form a well written argument.