Martin Luther King Rhetorical Analysis

1260 Words6 Pages
Martin Luther King Jr. advocates for non-violence throughout much of his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” However, he uses the extremist behavior of the black nationalists as a way to threaten the “white moderates” into siding with him on the issue of Civil Rights with the idea that he is the most moderate and sensible person leading the fight for equality. How can King justify using others’ violence to argue for nonviolence? Even though King’s tactics seems contradictory, it did help to encourage “white moderates” to advance his cause for equality, avoiding the violence of extremist groups.

King was the leading voice in the fight against racial segregation and aided in amending the nation’s moral values. The way in which people thought
…show more content…
Approximately five years after the publication of his doctrine, King would write his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” outlining those same qualities in order to inspire those that were against his methods of nonviolent resistance.

While King speaks heavily of nonviolence in his 1963 letter, he speaks heavily about the violence of others. King has come to the realization that in order for “white moderates” to side with him, he must first show them that there are worst alternatives. For example, he goes into great detail about the black nationalists, specifically Elijah Muhammad who was the leader of the Nation of Islam (NOI), an African American religious and political movement, that King refers to as a force of “bitterness and hatred”(King, Letter). While Muhammad brought together a movement that ignited a pride amongst African Americans in their cultural heritage, one cannot deny that much of Muhammad’s actions and rhetoric promoted violence against whites. King was able to capitalize on Muhammad’s violent behavior, and transformed it into an “us versus them” argument in his letter, with King being on the side of the “white moderates” and Muhammad and his followers being on the side against them. King is basically pleading for whites to join his cause because if
Get Access