Social Stratification in MLK’s “Letters from Birmingham Jail” Essay

Social Stratification in MLK’s “Letters from Birmingham Jail” Essay

Length: 1421 words (4.1 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Martin Luther King Jr. was an eloquent speaker and a powerful figure during the Civil Rights Movement. In “Letters from Birmingham Jail”, his use of the classical rhetoric engaged his audience and presented his thoughts/ideas clearly. Moreover, this particular text was initiated due to the non-violent demonstrations in Birmingham, AL, that lead to the arrest of many African-Americans. Although this was not a spoken document, the letter was targeted for several audiences; first, the clergymen who wrote “A Call for Unity”, secondly, the average white American, who was on neither extreme, but merely kept life the way that it was, and finally, to black men and women across the nation to stand up for their rights as well. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. illustrates the severity of the deep rooted social stratification during the civil rights era and it’s detriment to the forward progression of the final freedoms for African-Americans. One part of King’s intent was to express his deep concern with his fellow clergymen, whom were not at all sympathetic to the movement, yet practiced the word of God.
Dr. King establishes himself as an authoritative man of God, in order to identify himself as an equal to the clergymen. His religious influence is backed by the assertion that he has “… the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in ever southern state…” (40). In his response to the men whom so graciously wrote “A Call for Unity”, Martin Luther establishes himself as a man of the Bible, as they have also identified as members of the church. This grants him the opportunity to summon the power of the Lord/God to support his argument, demanding that action should be immediate. Also,...


... middle of paper ...


...t, concurrently he demands the attention of the sympathetic spectators through exploiting the harsh conditions in which he raises his own children and associates with his people. Publicizing the brutality in which most African-Americans in the southern states suffered, Dr. King was proficient in gaining support from the “white moderate”. By swaying this large population of the general public, the Civil Rights Movement was launched into full swing. I expect that this letter was not blissfully received by the members of the clergy who were content with maintaining the current balance, but created the tension needed to progress the Civil Rights movement forward.



Works Cited

King, Martin Luther, Jr. “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” Writing Public Lives. Eds. Christopher Minnix and Carol Nowotny-Young. Plymouth, MI: Hayden-McNeil Publishing, 2010. Pages 40-55. Print.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Redefining Structure: Social Stratification in MLK’s “Letters from Birmingham Jail”

- Martin Luther King, Jr. was an eloquent speaker and a powerful figure during the Civil Rights Movement. In “Letters from Birmingham Jail,” he uses the classical rhetoric to engage his audience and present his ideas clearly. This particular text was initiated due to the non-violent demonstrations in Birmingham, Alabama, which led to the arrest of many African-Americans, including King himself. Although this was not a spoken document, the letter was directed to several targeted audiences: first, the clergymen who wrote “A Call for Unity,” secondly, the “white moderate” (47), and finally, to black men and women across the nation who lacked the initial courage to fight for their rights....   [tags: Literary Analysis]

Powerful Essays
1718 words (4.9 pages)

Martin Luther King 's Letter From Birmingham Jail Essay

- Through reading Martin Luther King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail, it is hard not be impressed and taken aback by his eloquence with words, especially when you factor in that he is writing this letter from inside of a jail cell. He demonstrates how educated and intelligent he is as he is able to write this lengthy letter, complete with biblical citations and references, from within the jail and without access to any resources (Maranzani, 2013). Through reading King’s letter, and admiring his employment of Aristotle’s canons of rhetoric, and other rhetorical strategies, as well as his effective use of pathos, I have discovered that there are many underlying elements that go into being an effe...   [tags: Rhetoric, Letter from Birmingham Jail]

Powerful Essays
1518 words (4.3 pages)

Letter From Birmingham Jail By Dr. King Essay

- Clergymen, Recently you have received a letter from Martin Luther King Jr. entitled “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” In Dr. King’s letter he illustrates the motives and reasoning for the extremist action of the Civil Rights movement throughout the 1960’s. In the course of Dr. King’s letter to you, he uses rhetorical questioning and logistical reasoning, imagery and metaphors, and many other rhetorical devices to broaden your perspectives. I am writing this analysis in hopes you might reconsider the current stance you have taken up regarding the issues at hand....   [tags: Rhetoric, Letter from Birmingham Jail]

Powerful Essays
802 words (2.3 pages)

Essay about Mr. Luther King's Letter From Birmingham Jail

- "Martin Luther King Jr.'s letter from Birmingham Jail, which was written in April 16, 1963, is a passionate letter that addresses and responds to the issue and criticism that a group of white clergymen had thrown at him and his pro- black American organization about his and his organization's non- violent demonstrative actions against racial prejudice and injustice among black Americans in Birmingham. King writes the letter to defend his organization's actions and the letter is also an appeal to the people, both the white and black American society, the social, political, and religious community, and the whole of American society to encourage desegregation and encourage solidarity and equal...   [tags: Letter From Birmingham Jail King Essays]

Free Essays
408 words (1.2 pages)

Essay on Letter from a Birmingham Jail

- Letter from a Birmingham Jail      Is an individual ever morally justified in breaking a law?  The answer to this question is yes.  There are several reasons that have made me believe that it is morally justifiable in breaking the law; however the most convincing comes from Dr. Martin Luther King in his letter from a Birmingham Jail.  " We can never forget what that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal..." (Classic Arguments 668).  King went on in his letter to say that it would be against man made law to help a jew in Nazi Germany.  What King said in his letter has to make a person think that not all laws are good for the group in society and morality is a justifiable excuse...   [tags: Letter from Birmingham Jail]

Powerful Essays
855 words (2.4 pages)

Letter from Birmingham Jail Essay

- Race. It is a word that is associated with many thoughts, words, and emotions. The color of peoples' skin is the first thing that is noticed. Throughout history people have judged and mistreated because they were of the wrong  race. A prime example of this is the racial tension between blacks and whites. The driving force behind this tension is the past. For many years blacks were mistreated and abused based solely on the color of the skin. In Martin Luther King J.R.'s "Letter from Birmingham  Jail", he uses references to the past and people of the past to strengthen his point....   [tags: Letter from Birmingham Jail Essays]

Powerful Essays
613 words (1.8 pages)

Essay on Letter from a Birmingham Jail and The Declaration of Individualism

- Letter from a Birmingham Jail and The Declaration of Individualism Although the time periods and goals may be different the method for bringing about change is usually the same, this method is protest. This method is supported by two different people, in two different time periods, with two different goals; these two people are Thomas Jefferson and Martin Luther King Junior. 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....   [tags: Letter from Birmingham Jail]

Free Essays
849 words (2.4 pages)

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

- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” In King’s essay, “Letter From Birmingham Jail”, King brilliantly employs the use of several rhetorical strategies that are pivotal in successfully influencing critics of his philosophical views on civil disobedience. King’s eloquent appeal to the logical, emotional, and most notably, moral and spiritual side of his audience, serves to make “Letter From Birmingham Jail” one of the most moving and persuasive literary pieces of the 20th century....   [tags: Letter From Birmingham Jail Essays civil rights]

Powerful Essays
1090 words (3.1 pages)

Pathos in MLK Jr.'s Letter from Birmingham Jail Essay

- Pathos in MLK, Jr.'s Letter from Birmingham Jail   In his "Letter," Martin Luther King Jr.'s ability to effectively use pathos, or to appeal to the emotions of his audiences, is evident in a variety of places. More particularly in paragraph fourteen, King demonstrates his ability to inspire his fellow civil rights activists, invoke empathy in the hearts of white moderates, and create compassion in the minds of the eight clergyman to which the "Letter" is directed. In response to the clergyman's claim that his use of direct action was "untimely," King states, "We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God-given rights." As you can see, this statement is in d...   [tags: Letter from Birmingham Jail]

Powerful Essays
579 words (1.7 pages)

King's Argument in A Letter from Birmingham Jail Essay example

- King's Argument in A Letter from Birmingham Jail In Dr. King's essay 'Letter from Birmingham Jail' he addresses the claims made about his arrest by the eight clergymen. His responses are very long and detailed, giving a very compelling and moving point of view. His letter is directed to his audience, which consists of white middle class citizens who Dr. King refers to as the 'white moderates'. Dr. King's letter is very persuasive because his use of pathos makes the audience think or imagine themselves in the situation....   [tags: Luther King Birmingham Jail Essays Papers]

Powerful Essays
950 words (2.7 pages)