Essay on Dr. Martin Luther King 's Letter From Birmingham Jail

Essay on Dr. Martin Luther King 's Letter From Birmingham Jail

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the leader of a peaceful movement to end segregation in the United States this mission led him in 1963 to Birmingham, Alabama where officials and leaders in the community actively fought against desegregation. While performing sit-ins, marches and other nonviolent protests, King was imprisoned by authorities for violating the strict segregation laws. While imprisoned King wrote a letter entitled “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, in which he expresses his disappointment in the clergy, officials, and people of Birmingham. This letter employed pathos to argue that the leaders and ‘heroes’ in Birmingham during the struggle were at fault or went against their beliefs.
Police brutality against African Americans was nothing new to the eras during and prior to King’s struggle in Birmingham; however it was clearly enhanced during the protests as police used hoses and dogs on protestors. While this should have caused outrage and a series of reprimands, the Birmingham police force were applauded for their actions by the Alabama officials. King was particularly angered by this, he wrote that the officials would not “so warmly commended the police force if you had seen its angry violent dogs literally biting six unarmed, nonviolent Negroes… if you would watch them push and curse old Negro women and young Negro girls; if you would see them slap and kick old Negro men and young boys…” This inhuman treatment of African Americans was televised, causing a stir of outrage among Americans, and the praise the police received only added fuel to this fire. Police officers take an Oath of Honor to uphold laws and their communities, but in the case of the protests in Birmingham the officers blatantly abused this oath. They use...


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...cially when followed up with a lengthy paragraph detailing injustices done towards African Americans, including lynching and drowning. In his descriptions King uses familial terms such as ‘mother’ and ‘father’, which are words that typically elicit an emotional response from an audience, to picture ones family in such terrible situations would surely drive home the idea that the African American community cannot ‘wait’ anymore for a freedom that will probably never be given to them otherwise.
Dr. King was no stranger to an audience, as a preacher he was a practiced orator and was a highly respected man among his followers. His leadership led the way for desegregation in much of the south, but most importantly he inspired people. It was through Dr. King’s use of pathos that gripped the attention of the American people to show them the failings of the current system.

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