The Story Behind The Letter from Birmingham Jail

“Letter from Birmingham Prison” was composed on April 16, 1963 by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It was composed in response to the objections of white southern guys.

This letter discusses Martin Luther Kings’ actions and tries to clarify and discuss his protest for desegregation was essential and certainly not unforeseen. The letter explains why he remained in prison, the wrongful acts against African Americans during the civil liberties period, and the use of direct action to make a distinction. Dr Kings’ letter stands as a contemporary classic of argumentation partly due to his usage of Aristotle’s 3 rhetorical appeals: ethos, logo designs, and pathos.

First of Aristotle’s 3 rhetorical appeals is ethos. Ethos is an appeal to the writer’s reliability. In Dr. Kings’ essay he utilized this appeal in this quote, “But considering that I feel that you are guys of genuine excellent will which your criticisms are sincerely stated, I want to attempt to address your statement in what I hope will be patient and sensible terms.” (p. 212). King felt it was required for non-violent technique to be taken sp that interaction could open in between the two races. Through non-violent action, crisis is formed and communities are required to challenge the concern.

King highly believed the circumstance needed to be gone over rather than left as it was. Aristotle’s 2nd appeal is logos. Logo designs is the attract reasoning. Martin Luther King was an excellent speaker and attracted the logical side of many people. His essay took his understanding and his talent of persuasion and summed up what he was working for and what he believed in. In Kings speech he wrote this, “How does one determine whether a law is just or unjustified? A law is a manmade code that squares with the moral law or law of god. An unjustified law is a code out of consistency with the moral law.” (p. 215-216).

He shows the distinction between simply and unjust appealing to the reader’s logical side. King believes that justice too long is justice rejected. Flexibility needs to be required by the oppressed due to the fact that the oppressor never ever voluntarily offers it. Aristotle’s final rhetorical appeal is pathos. Pathos is the interest the reader’s emotion. In Kings Letter he wrote this, “… when you all of a sudden find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to describe to your six year old daughter why she cant go to the amusement part that has simply been promoted on tv, and tears welling up in her eyes …” (p. 215).

This quote actually yanks on the reader’s feelings as he/she can visualize the little girl beginning to cry. King’s letter was intended to remove the “clouds of racial prejudice” and bring some understanding of brotherhood to the communities throughout the Unites States. It is really hard for a moms and dad to have to inform their child they can not do something because of the color of their skin. It is a shame that we were so despiteful and small minded in the past, and all the suffering that needed to take place prior to we lastly recognized that something so small as the color of your skin doesn’t determine what sort of individual somebody is.

King thinks the message of integration is universal and anybody who resides in the United States can not be considered an outsider no matter race, color, religion, or creed. In “The Letter from Birmingham Prison” King used all three of Aristotle’s rhetorical appeals for classical argument. King utilized principles to interest the writer’s reliability; logo designs to appeal to the author’s logic; and pathos to appeal to the writer’s emotion. Martin Luther King’s goals have been met, but just to some extent.

This writer sees his letter as a prominent part of history and a significant event that alters the Civil liberty Movement for the better. There is still hatred by some and fear which fuels hatred by others. Letter from Birmingham Prison tries to make racist people understand King’s desire for desegregation. He demonstrates the function behind the demonstration and it’s seriousness by different examples throughout the letter. It’s just so regrettable that still today we have such little minded individuals even after Dr. Kings effective letter.

You Might Also Like