Martin Luther King 's Letter From Birmingham Jail

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Martin Luther King, Jr. seldom had time to answer his critics. But on April 16, 1963, he was confined to the Birmingham jail, imprisoned for participating in civil rights demonstrations. “Alone for days in the dull monotony of a narrow jail cell,” King pondered a letter titled A Call for Unity that fellow clergymen had published pressing him to drop his crusade of nonviolent resistance and to leave the battle for racial equality to the courts. Within that document, King’s fellow clergymen caste him as an ‘outsider’ and ‘extremist’ interfering with life in the City of Birmingham. They criticize his use of direct action, instead advocating for negotiation; they criticize the fact that King breaks the laws, and they ask for patience from the black community, stating that blacks must wait for society to move gradually toward civil rights. In response to these criticisms, King drafted his most extensive and forcefully written declaration against social injustice. Teeming with the energy and resonance of his great speeches, “Letter from Birmingham Jail” is both a compelling defense of nonviolent civil disobedience and a rallying cry for an end to social discrimination. Through the use of powerful emotional and logical appeals, King is able to effectively refute the clergyman’s condemnations and is able to sway the hearts and minds of his moderate white readership. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” effectively uses emotional appeals through the invocation of
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