The Letter from Birmingham Jail Essay

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On April 16, 1963, from a jail in Birmingham, Alabama, Martin Luther King Jr. composed an extensive letter to eight clergymen who condemned the timing of the civil rights movement. Although the letter was addressed to these eight clergymen, the Letter from Birmingham Jail speaks to a national audience, especially King’s “Christian and Jewish brothers”(King, 29). His peaceful but firm letter serves as a remarkably persuasive voice to an immensely chaotic mess, and is seen as a major turning point in the civil rights movement. King believes that without direct action, the full rights for African Americans could never be achieved. He defends the impatience of people in the civil rights movement, upholding that without forceful…show more content…
He wants his readers to imagine the pain and humiliation of the ill treatment that African Americans endure on a daily basis. King writes of vicious mobs lynching people’s mothers and fathers, policemen killing people’s brothers and sisters, a man and his wife not receiving the proper respect they deserve because of their skin color, and the notion that African Americans feel insignificant within their communities; this is why these peaceful demonstrators of whom the clergymen attack “find it difficult to wait” (King, 20). However, King believes that soon, injustice will be exposed, like “a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up” (King, 30). This vivid description helps arouse an emotional response, driving shame into the hearts of his white readers. Throughout his letter, King also uses literal and historical analogies as well as theoretical language, also known as logos, in order to conjure a cognitive, coherent reaction in his readers. His use of logos helps is arguments strength and irrefutability. King states facts that cannot be argued, facts that are accepted by all as true. He states that fact that he is in jail “because injustice is [in Birmingham]” (King, 10), a statement that is nonnegotiable. He continues to say that Birmingham is “probably one of the most segregated

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