The Right Time for Martin Luther King, Jr. Essay

1342 Words6 Pages
As a leader in the civil rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had to confront both the oppression of blacks in America as well as dissenters who objected to the timing and methods King advocated. Deeply involved in the civil rights movement, King rarely had time to respond to his critics. However, while confined to the Birmingham jail after being arrested during a civil rights demonstration, King had time to address several of these widely held criticisms that were the subject of a letter written by eight Birmingham clergymen and published in a local newspaper. In his Letter from Birmingham jail King’s eloquent and persuasive response to each of their arguments supported his belief that it was the right time for a full-scale civil…show more content…
King also appeals to logic. He says, “I am in Birmingham because injustice is here” and as a religious leader, he is compelled to fight for freedom from oppression wherever it occurs. He follows this with an emotional appeal when he states, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. . . Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Through these persuasive devices King successfully defends his presence in Birmingham at the time of the demonstrations. On several occasions the clergymen revisited the topic of the timing of the civil rights activities that were taking place in Birmingham. They questioned why Birmingham’s new city administration was not given time to act. King had a strong line of argument against waiting. By citing the history of oppression as an appeal to logic, King explained that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. King had seen laws change, but not enforced and he recognized that change would not come easily without change in the hearts and minds of the American people. On this topic King also makes a touching emotional appeal describing how it is for a father to have to answer the questions of their children when they ask why they can’t play where white children play or why white people treated them “so mean.”
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