The most emotionally powerful example of inequality in Dr. King’s letter is the one he gives about his six-year-old daughter:
when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people (381-82)
The reader can visualize the scene of Dr. King’s daughter sitting on the floor of his living room in front of a television set and becoming excited as she sees a commercial for an amusement park come on television. This example, unlike some of the other ones he uses, is one that almost every American can relate to. Most people remember being a child and seeing a product or event, such as a circus, in an advertisement that they found exciting. So...
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...n feel the emotions he feels. He says “your mothers and fathers”, “your brothers and sisters”, “your six-year-old daughter” so the reader pictures their white mother, white father, white brother, white sister, white son, or white daughter instead of a black person. It is likely that many of the people who he was writing this letter to still viewed African Americans as lesser than equals and he wanted them to see themselves as the ones who were being treated unjustly. By effectively using rhetoric Dr. King was able to make the reader picture themselves and their family members as the victims, and in doing so he was able to make a much stronger emotional argument.
King, Martin Luther, Jr. “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” A World of Ideas: Essential Readings for College Writers. Ed. Lee A. Jacobus. 9th ed. Boston: Bedford / St. Martins, 2013. 377-92. Print.
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