Letter From Birmingham Jail Analysis
“Letter from Birmingham Prison” is thought about by many to be a masterpiece of American essay writing and political rhetoric. King’s adept handling of persuasive appeals and his interventions in the representation of the stakeholders in the battle for civil rightsallowed him to introduce the Civil Rights Motion to a nationwide audience that may well have had unfavorable perceptions of it. King utilizes attract feeling, reason, and character/authority tostake out a more powerful position for the protestors.
King utilizes appeals to emotion throughout the essay to dramatize the effect of partition and bigotry on African-Americans and to humanize them, an essential job given the absence of knowledge or misinformation about African-Americans that would have controlled pop culture of the day. King likewise utilizes appeals to reason and facts to support his case. For example, King outlines the actions for utilizing nonviolent direct action (87) and after that systematically explains how the SCLC and ACMHR followed each of the actions before opposing, hence countering allegations from the ministers (and a national audience) that the demonstrations were ill-timed.
Finally, King counts on figures like Jesus and the apostles to establish a precedent for his involvement in seeminglysecular affairs, a move that helps him to establish credibility. The other major job King had to achieve in writing “Letter from Birmingham Prison” was an intervention in the method he, the motion he led, and the footsoldiers of that movement– protestors– were represented. Many readers would have seen segregation as a regional problem, and others would even have viewed King’s politics with suspicion in the context of the Cold War.
King utilizes a multipronged approach to reach these readers. First, he utilizes the idea of the
“interrelatedness of all communities and states”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, Letter From Birmingham Prison Analysis, Page 87
to supply a reasoning for his engagement in relatively local affairs, which produces a reasoning for the nationwide audience’s involvement also. King also consistently composes the protests into a narrative that reimagines American history as centuries of injustice and describes contemporary efforts to upset for modification as part of an American tradition of civil disobedience in the service of liberty.
By modifying the history of racial oppression as a 340-year old problem, rather than a decades-old battle influenced by agitators, King provides demonstration as a long overdue reaction. King’s representation of protestors as patriotic also counters the allegation that there was something un-American about their activities. 1963, the year of the demonstrations, was one year after the Cuban Missile Crisis, which raised worries of nuclear annihilation from Soviet missiles parked in Cuba.
In the context of this atmosphere, King’s emphasis on social justice (an issue of Communist ideology), his desire to break laws, and his power to inspire others to do the very same opened him to both genuine and disingenuous allegations that the Civil liberty Motion was a hidden effort by the Soviet Union to destabilize the U. S. The allegation had to be countered to sway this suspicious national audience.
His self-representation as a guy of God whose politics is grounded in Christian faith and African-American protestors as the personification of American and Christian ideals specify interventions designed to put Cold War suspicions to rest. King likewise intervenes in the representation of other political players in American politics to show that the belief that partition will gradually end on its own is deeply flawed and not moderate.
It erroneously assumes the choice is in between ongoing partition and gradual integration. King’s focus on black nationalists, whom he views as dangerous actors capable of leveraging African-American discontent to create a
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, Letter From Birmingham Prison Analysis, Page 101
of violence, is created to reveal that the option is in between violent revolt and nonviolent demonstration, and that it will be difficult to limit the previous if urgent action is not taken.
In presenting nonviolent demonstration as a moderate, third way, Kingtransforms himself into a figure of small amounts, represents African-Americans as representatives in their own political fate, andpoints whites– specifically moderates– towards a higher evil that could unfold, ought to they not enable more moderate kinds of demonstration. King’s interventions in representations of himself, African-Americans, and white moderates, combined with his experienced use of convincing appeals, serve to convince the audience that the protests in Birmingham are warranted and part of a deeply American movement that is required now.