Martin Luther King Junior's letter from a Birmingham Jail was an expression of his encouragement for protest against tradition and established laws and a justification for his actions. King, a leader of a civil-rights group that supported protest against traditional views, encouraged protesting against tradition and established laws that are unjust. In his letter from Birmingham Jail King states: "It was illegal to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler's Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at that time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country's anti-religious laws." This excerpt shows that King encourages protest because in some situations he deems it necessary, be it in Hitler's Germany, a Communist country, or any situation in which injustices are occurring. In the last sentence of the excerpt King openly admits that he would protest against established laws or traditions. King was against the traditional views and unjust laws, which discriminated against him and his fellow people.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a minister and a civil rights activist during the mid 1950s Civil Rights movement. Dr. King was one of the major influencers in changing federal and state laws in the betterment, by removing segregational laws, of the African American community. Dr. King won a Nobel Peace Prize along with other awards for his involvement in raising awareness of the civil liberties being taken away from the African American community. One of the reasons why Dr. King was so influential in his movements, along with his speeches, was because he was able to communicate his and the African American community’s feelings towards segregation and use his orating and writing abilities to move that community into action. King was highly motivated to do what was right and did not care of the consequences of acting out towards his suppressors. The Letter from Birmingham Jail is a perfect example of a time King uses his ability to communicate feelings into getting a large group of people to join his movement. Although his letter had little to no effect on the issues of Birmingham, since by the time the letter was written most issues had been resolved, it did help gain support for the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The Letter from Birmingham Jail uses pathos to criticize the white church and gain sympathy for the atrocious acts committed towards the African American community to increase the white churches’ support for integration.
In Martin Luther King’s letter from Birmingham Jail, pathos, ethos, and logos are vividly expressed throughout it. All three rhetorical devices are vital to the meaning of the letter; the most influential being pathos. MLK takes advantage of the human body’s strong response to emotion. It is illustrated in his appeal to empathy, exercised mainly through gruesome depictions; his call for action to his peers, as shown when he expresses his disappointment in them as they preserve order over justice; and his strategic use of pathos as a supporting effort for both ethos and logos arguments.
A Letter From a Birmingham Jail
In Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," his thoughts and ideas are directly stated, well expressed, explained, and illustrated. King's style of writing gives the reader a clear glimpse into the world with which he struggled and allows his letter to be powerfully effective.
In the introductory paragraph, King introduces his reason for writing the letter and details who the audience is to be.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was a pastor, activist, and leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. Mr. King was a man of honor and respect even in the troubling situations of serving jail time. People who were supposed to support him questioned his actions, Dr. King still stood by what he believed in. In Birmingham, Alabama Dr. King hoped that the white religious leaders will come to his aid but instead found reluctance and opposition. In the “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, Martin Luther King, Jr. refutes his critics claims through the use of passionate tones, metaphors, and allusions.
This resulted to King getting arrested for parading without permit. Which is ironic because African American’s were not allowed the privilege to do certain things white people could do, and trying get a permit to protest will not be given to an African American no matter the circumstances. As King said “an ordinance which requires a permit for a parade, but when the ordinance is used to preserve segregation and to deny citizens the First Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and peaceful protest, then it becomes unjust.” (King 3). King logical facts explaining to his audience what is it is to try to make an unjust law a just law. For instance King states “This ‘wait’ has almost meant ‘never’. It has been a tranquilizing thalidomide, relieving the emotional stress for a moment…”(King 2). King explains to all his audience that all his beliefs and actions were in the form of the non violence approach. As a result of the unfair treatment and injustice African Americans were receiving. Another stated fact was “An unjust law is a code that a majority inflicts on a minority that is not binding on itself...a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow, and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal.”(King 3). King uses this line to show to his audience the reason why Birmingham laws were being classified as unjust, because all African Americans were being treated through
MLK once said "We have no alternative but to protest. For many years we have shown an amazing patience. We have sometimes given our white brothers the feeling that we liked the way we were being treated. But we come here tonight to be saved from that patience that makes us patient with anything less than freedom and justice."(The Biography.com website). MLK knew that if we used force it would be a disaster and they would never get freedom. While MLK was at Birmingham Jail he wrote about nonviolence for all people to read. He said"Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community, which has constantly refused to negotiate, is forced to confront the issue."(The Biography.com website) So many thought MLK would come and be this guy who would see violence as a tool to use, but when he didn’t people were very supprised that nonviolence was his choice of action. MLK has a family too and it was not only but his family too. They probably wondered all the time if their father would be home that night. Many suffered from these movement acts and wondered if they would be able to kiss their kids goodnight, or see their wifes. Would you be able to not see your dad for weeks or maybe even months? This is why many had patience. They knew what they were fighting for all of them had a purpose. MKL knew one day there would be freedom everywhere. He also knew it wasn’t going to come easily. He never gave up though and he always believed in
Dr. Martin Luther King addressed many topics in, “Letter from Birmingham Jail”. He answered all the issues that were aimed towards him in a very skillful and well thought out manner. These issues came from, “A Call For Unity”, which was a letter published by eight local clergymen expressing their feelings about what Dr. King was doing. One concern in particular that King did an outstanding job of confronting was that of the clergymen’s anxiety about him breaking the law. King addresses the question of, “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” by clarifying that there are just and unjust laws. He also goes on to explain the difference between the two, the effect of unjust laws on the people that they are aimed towards, as
In the "Letter from a Birmingham Jail", Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. responds to an article by eight clergymen, in which he explains the racial injustice in Birmingham, and reasons why King's organization is protesting for Civil Rights. He introduces himself and his actions at the beginning of his letter. He states that the purpose of his direct action protest is to open the door for negotiation on the Civil Rights. He tries to convince his audience by providing evidence in order to gain his audience to be involved in his movement and support him. He also highlights police actions against nonviolent Negros and crimes against humanity in Birmingham city jail.
After the Birmingham, Alabama newspaper published “The Public Statement by Eight Alabama Clergymen” calling Martin Luther King Jr.’s activities “unwise and untimely,” King wrote a response back from jail arguing each point the clergymen had made in their “Public Statement.” In the “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” King points out that he is not an outsider since the people of Birmingham invited him and that since they are all within the United States, nobody should be even considered an outsider. Being a fighter of injustice, King says, he sought to negotiate with the white community of Birmingham, but they refused to comply. Then, he illustrates to them that the tension amongst the groups is many times good because it leads to action and negotiation. He further explains that calling the actions of Negroes “unwise and untimely” is denying them justice, which they have been waiting for too long. Moreover, King explains that laws can be just and unjust, and that he will only obey just laws that agree with the moral code and disobey laws that do not unlike the white churches, which permit prejudice and hate even though they should preach brotherhood and love. Lastly, King points out that Negroes will win their freedom in the end because it is their right and God’s will.