Martin Luther King 's Letter From Birmingham Jail Essay

Martin Luther King 's Letter From Birmingham Jail Essay

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In 1963, Birmingham was one of the most segregated cities in the South, so civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. brought his campaign of nonviolent resistance to Birmingham. After leading a demonstration on April 12, 1963, King was arrested for violating demonstration ordinances. Shortly after, eight white clergymen in Birmingham sent out a public statement claiming that although they support desegregation, they advise against anymore protests advocated by King, stating that the “demonstrations are unwise and untimely” (Carpenter et al,). While in jail, King took an opportunity to continue his campaign by responding to these eight white clergymen. In his “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” King uses religious and philosophical allusions to effectively convey his intellect and credibility to his audience: the clergymen and his followers. And in doing so, King is able to justify his demonstrations and his actions as an activist.
In the clergymen’s statement, they accuse King of being an “outsider” (King) who has cause much trouble to Birmingham. King begins his letter by addressing this accusation directly. He first states that he is in Birmingham because “injustice is here” (King). He follows this statement by comparing himself to Apostle Paul, a biblical figure who, just like King, travels to carry out his beliefs. This first allusion is important because it introduces King as a man of faith and righteousness. In literature, the use of biblical figures typically gives the author credibility because of the impact the Bible and the Christian values have on society today. In King’s case, this is no exception. This allusion is effective because King’s audience includes eight religious leaders. By directly appealing to the beliefs a...


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...ect and force the clergymen to engage in his words. Overall, “Letter to Birmingham Jail” is very convincing in justifying the civil disobedience and morals dealing with the civil rights. Moreover, King’s response was strong and, without a doubt, proved his commitment to civil rights. While addressing the clergymen’s public statement, King successfully encouraged his followers to stay in a hopeful and devoted state of mind despite the clergymen’s advice to cease demonstrations and marches. This is the reason why this letter is so important in the civil rights movement. It proved that although King was arrested, he remained hopeful in his boycotts, his sit-ins, and his demonstrations, because he believed in a better future for society. And just like in some of the most influential texts in history, his devotion, faith, and beliefs led to a tremendous change in history.

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