In Letter from Birmingham Jail Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is writing a letter in response to eight white Southern religious leaders. King begins by giving his reasoning for addressing them. He mentions that he usually doesn’t address the criticism he receives. He says, “But since I feel you are men of genuine good will and your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I would like to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.” (King 1) To me, it seems as if Dr. King had a bit of a sarcastic tone, and this is what intrigued me to read this letter. In his second paragraph, King addresses the concern of being called an “outsider.” He explains why he is in Birmingham by giving insight on the role he holds in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He speaks on how they have organizations in many southern states. He says, “I am here because I have basic organizational ties here.” (King 1) Dr. King was invited there along with several members of his staff. To me, this makes the men look bad, because they made assumptions before knowing the actual situation. Dr. King vividly tells why he is in Birmingham. He explains that there is injustice there, and if left alone, it is a threat to justice everywhere. Paragraph four is so powerful to me, because King gets personal in telling why he is so determined. In paragraph four, he states, “Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider.” (King 1) The reason this statement is
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Lastly, King appeals to character as well as establishing his creditability. For starters, the the vocabulary King chose to use shows that he is educated and possesses the knowledge to respond to the clergymen. King also informed the clergymen that he had previous experience in conducting and participating in non-violent campaigns. This provides credibility because it showed that he had prior knowledge of the behavior and purpose of those participating, while also addressing that past campaigns have always been “untimely”, but with desired outcome. The last and most obvious proof of credibility, is that King was a black man that faced the same adversities that he referred to in the last paragraph of this section. The example being of having to personally tell his daughter why she could not be allowed to go to a public amusement park because she was black and looked at as less than.
Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail, there are lots of rhetorical strategies that he uses in response to the eight Alabama clergymen’s letter, A Call for Unity. The clergymen’s letter was criticising Dr. King’s civil rights demonstrations taking place in Alabama. The letter encouraged civil rights activists to negotiate instead of protesting and King’s letter responded arguing that it is necessary for them to take civil action and counters their claim by using ethos, asking rhetorical questions, and using numerous biblical and historical allusions.
Dr. King's explicit audience for the letter were the clergymen who were critical of the demonstrations and even questioned Dr. King's right to be in Birmingham in the first place. Dr. King explained, to begin with, that his position as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) brought him to Birmingham, as he had been invited by an affiliate organization. Dr. King further made the case that no invitation was really necessary. As he stated, "I am in Birmingham because injustice is here...Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." The injustices in Birmingham, he argued, affected every citizen of the United States. No one could be an "outsider' in one's own country or become involved in a cause that was not his as determined by geographic demarcation. The cause of freedom was the right and the responsibility of every American. It was to this much larger audience that Dr. King wrote. In particular, the section in which Dr. King described the pain and humiliation suffered by blacks was meant for a white audience. African-Americans
The first of many facets that make “Letter From Birmingham Jail” effective is the credibility as an author and human being that Reverend King establishes. His titles, of Reverend and Doctor, are noticed almost immediately by a reader, but they aren’t the only factors that give him validity and bring him renown. The fact that Dr. King penned a response in the first place speaks to his character. Michael Osborn puts this in simpler words saying, “The statement to which
In, “A Letter from a Birmingham Jail”, King writes about the criticisms placed on him by the Clergy and to all the white Americans who believe they are superior and do not wrong. For example when King writes, “freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed” (King 3), King is speaking to the clergy who dislike his motives and actions. King is stating his innocence and that he is doing nothing wrong and that action needs to be taken in order to initiate a change. The purpose of King’s letter is not all to inspire a change in America and just address the criticism towards him and his actions but it is also a call to action. King takes on the time of a courageous, righteous, and disciplined man who
“Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly” wrote Martin Luther King, Jr. in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” At the time, King, being the president of the Southern Leadership Conference, was an influential leader in the Civil Rights Movement and was imprisoned for holding a nonviolent protest in Birmingham, Alabama. On April 16, 1963, from his jail cell, King wrote this famous and lengthy letter, which was a response to a statement issued by eight white clergymen. Although the letter was directed towards these clergymen and represented his rebuttal, King’s letter had a much greater audience, which was all of those who were exposed to his powerful words. His letter spoke of many controversial issues involving racism at the
In Dr. King’s, "Letter from Birmingham Jail,” King specifically writes to the Clergymen of Birmingham, AL. While taking into consideration those who might hear his acknowledgments of what’s going on, to justify and explain his intentions, while also trying to appeal to these audiences to make them see the harsh consequences of unfair and biased inequalities that consume the city of Birmingham Al., during this time. Dr. King specifically writes this letter to the priest who had insinuated that the situation of racial discrimination was controlled by those of the law and authority, which they felt was not to involve Dr. King and his followers.
King wants them to know that he is not really an outsider but the president of The Southern Christian Leadership Conference with an affiliation in Birmingham. He wants to point out that he not only has organizational ties but also was invited to participate in the direct action program in Birmingham in support of desegregation. In the course of the letter, King uses philosophical, religious and historical examples to get his points across. In order to gain control of the reader Martin Luther King Jr. includes vivid images of cruel acts that African Americans in Birmingham endured. Concerning this unsettling time in society King could have described many of the immoral and unjust acts that he encountered on a
The purpose for Martin Luther king to write “Letter from Birmingham Jail” was to respond to white Alabama clergymen who before this had criticized his action saying they were “unwise and untimely.” These clergymen had published a criticism directed towards King’s organization and participation in his protest march against segregation in Birmingham. This letter is not intended to persuade these men towards supporting civil rights, but rather to demonstrate that there is an immediate need towards direct action, and also that they need to open their eyes and see the African American community’s suffering. King withal expounds the need for tension, though only through nonviolent means, a tension that will coerce society to confront the present convivial iniquity head on. King disapproves being called an outsider because of his belief that humanity is part an "inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny."
King’s purposeful use of appealing to reason gave him an upper hand throughout his piece, “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” and established security in his statements. Taking ethos into consideration from Martin Luther King’s text, we saw why he presented himself in such a formal manner. “I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia” (Paragraph 2, “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”). By using this appeal to credibility, King earned his audience’s respect and varnished his message. Connecting to his readers, Martin Luther King also utilized pathos throughout his letter to add just another foothold on his audience. “But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and
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
In Martin Luther King Jr.’s letter, written to the Clergymen from Birmingham Prison, he uses the rhetorical appeal of ethos to establish his credibility on the subject of racial discrimination and injustice. He starts off the letter with “My Dear Fellow Clergymen”. By him saying this, he is putting himself on the same “level” as the clergymen, sending the message that he is no less than them and they are no better than him. He then goes on to say, “I am here because I have organizational ties here. But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here”. He is telling them that he has credibility on the matter of injustice, not because he is the recipient of white privilege, but because he is well researched on the subject. King says, “I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern
Meanwhile, Dr. King also appeals to the logical side of the men within the letter, to lead them to the bigger picture of the injustice faced by African-Americans during this era. Dr. King uses facts and United States laws to prove that his actions were not untimely but in contrast these actions were overdue and that in fact he was not an outsider, but rather an invited guest.“So I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here, I am here because I have organizational ties here. But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.” (King) He goes on by saying “Then, last September, came the opportunity to talk with leaders of Birmingham's economic community. In the course of the negotiations, certain promises were made by the merchants --- for example, to remove the stores’ humiliating racial signs. On the basis of these promises, the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and the leaders of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights agreed to a moratorium on all demonstrations. As the weeks and months went by, we realized that we were the victims of a
Dr. King was in Birmingham because of the injustice that is going on over those that believe in equality and civil rights for, on the other side there were those that didn’t. The city population was mainly KKK members, one man in particular was Commissioner of Public Safety Eugene “Bull” Connor 's who was more about segregation that equal rights that’s members needed someone in high authority on their side. While the protester marched nonviolently the were attacked by police dogs and strong blasted of water holes similar to the ones use to put out fires. ( King, 2006)
In addition, Dr. King and his staffs were protesting against the racial segregation in Birmingham and then got arrested. When Dr. King was in jail, he wrote a letter to the Clergyman of Alabama addressing to his concerns towards racial injustice for African-Americans in Birmingham. Also, his letter talked about the reason he is in Birmingham? And introducing himself, which he's serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Then he explained to the Clergyman how the people that live in the United States are not considered as outsider agitators, including that how the African-Americans are not being treated equally by the American people, and have waited too long for their justice which never heard back.