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Rhetorical Analysis Of Letter From Birmingham Jail

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While imprisoned in Birmingham Jail, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. received a letter from the local clergymen that condemned his actions, calling them rash and extreme. In response, Dr. King wrote his own letter back defending his decisions. In his Letter from Birmingham Jail, Dr. King appeals to ethos and pathos as he attempts to convince the clergymen of the need for direct action in Birmingham, by showing the similarities in his own struggles and those faced by countless historical and biblical figures.
In the Letter from Birmingham Jail, Dr. King demonstrates the need for extreme action by depicting Birmingham’s dire future if the Clergymen continue to simply wait for the city to change. He claims that without extreme action one of two possible scenarios will play out, either nothing will ever change in Birmingham and people will continue to suffer under injustice, or worse, the African American community in Birmingham will be forced to resort to violence in order to accomplish their goal of equality. In the quote “millions of Negroes will… seek solace and security in a black nationalist ideology - a development that would inevitably lead to a frightening racial nightmare,” Dr. King demonstrates the consequences of the clergymen condemning his protest by explaining that his protests are the only way for many of the African American people to work out their frustrations, and without them, the majority of the black populace in Birmingham has no way to release its
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