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Martin Luther King Rhetorical Analysis

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From time immemorial, the promoters of social justice utilize rhetorical strategies to persuade theirs opponents of theirs claims. The proponents of the movement for civil rights for African Americans have made an intensive use of those strategies to advocate their cause. On April 16, 1963, from the jail of Birmingham, Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote an extensive missive to eight clergymen who had attacked his work for civil rights in a public statement released on April 12, 1963. Martin Luther King, Jr. primarily aimed this letter at those eight leaders of the white Church of the South. However, the eight clergymen's letter and the response from Martin Luther King, Jr. were publicly published. Martin Luther King, Jr. wanted to convince of the utility of his commitment in this particular area at this specific moment. To persuade his readers, Martin Luther King, Jr. predominantly employs Aristotle's three types of persuasion that are appeals to ethos, pathos, and logos. First, he appeals to his own reputation and wisdom. Second, he tries to arouse emotions or sympathy in the readers. Finally, he appeals to logic, supported with evidence and citations from influential thinkers. Martin Luther King, Jr. wants to be the spokesperson of the African American community in the United States of America. His intention is to prove his opponents he has sufficient authority to promote the civil rights cause on behalf of his community. The first example that illustrates Martin Luther King, Jr.'s use of this strategy is present in the second paragraph of his letter: "I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference". Thus, he reminds his interlocutors of his position of leadership in the religious community.... ... middle of paper ... ...n to construct a rapprochement with the WASP community as well. Actually, he reminds the WASP community of its anterior fights against both the British oppression and the Nazi regime. Thus, he intends to illustrate with analogies that the fight for African Americans' civil rights is not so far from the WASP community prior demands. Consequently, he obliterates the false dichotomy that runs rampant in the WASP community, namely the requirements for civil rights are not as justifiable and moral as the independence of the thirteen colonies or the suppression of the Nazi anti-Semitism. An important element of this Letter from Birmingham Jail is that Martin Luther King, Jr. concludes his missive with an appeal to peace and unity. With those words, if the readers have just forgotten the entire discourse, the readers keep in minds his motivation for appeasement and concord.
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