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Essay on Martin Luther King Jr.

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Broadcaster Edward R. Murrow once said, “To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; credible we must be truthful.” Those words apply to any form of communication but are substantially potent when considering ones written endorsements. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail” was written as a peaceful rhetorical rebuttal intended to appeal to its eight authoring clergymen; whom expressed their disapproval of Dr. King’s actions and their timing. When reading Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail”, the reader is persuaded by his diverse writing style; which incorporates ethical, logical, and emotional appeals.
Using ethical arguments, Dr. King was able to address legality, spirituality, and morality. This is especially important as the documents intended readers were clergymen of both Christian and Jewish faith. Speaking of the law of the land which was currently being violated, Dr. King said “we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools” (64). Dr. King was urging people to stand up constitutional rights that were being openly violated. He moves ahead in his letter making a reference to the teachings of a fellow Christian “To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law” (64). By citing a familiar, historical and religious figure of good will as a reference, Dr, King’s arguments are better received and are more easily associated with the philosophy of a well-known and beloved saint. One of the most potent ways he was able to portray the depths of depravity and the height of human intervention was by drawing attenti...


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...hter who is innocent is developing a prevailing animosity towards whites. Combined, Kings use of similes and metaphors paint a picture that is not easily discarded or forgotten by the reader.
With strong ethical, logical, and emotional arguments, King’s artfully crafted letter is a very effective rebuttal both defensively and offensively for his cause. Profoundly written in a dark time, King’s letter was an inspiration to himself and to his intended audience of Clergymen. His undeniable ability to capture his readers' attention visually, spiritually, and audibly make this enduring historical document a fantastic read and example of near perfectly executed rhetoric.







Works Cited

Jr., Dr. Martin Luther King. "Letter From Birmingham Jail." Miller, Brock, Sansom. Discovering a Voice, A Rhetoric for Writers. Southlake: Fountainhead Press, 2009. 428. Book Section.



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