Letter from Birmingham Jail Essay
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. introduces the “Letter From Birmingham Jail” by mentioning, “While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities ‘unwise and untimely'”(para. 1). After he establishes why he is writing this letter he places the issue in context by stating, “But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms”(para. 1).
Dr. King knows what is at stake by indicating, “I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what is happens in Birmingham… injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”(para. 4). Dr. King verifies that he wants everyone to see why his brothers and sisters are demonstrating in Birmingham. He states this by saying, “You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham… but your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations”(para. 5).
The stance Dr. King took was that peaceful protest and marches were an outlet for his people to express their frustration. Dr. King says to his critics, “There comes a day when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair… I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience. ” The common ground Dr. King encourages is to do peaceful and nonviolent marches and protests. He details this in his letter by saying, “You are quite right in calling for negotiation… onviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue”(para. 10).
Dr. King promises that his direct action program is constructive, but nonviolent. In his letter he mentions this by saying, “The purpose of our direct-action program is to create a situation so crisis-packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation… I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation”(para. 11). Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ffers a resolution by saying, “”I also hope that circumstances will soon make it possible for me to meet each of you, not as integrationist or a civil rights leader but as a fellow clergyman and a Christian brother…Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with their scintillating beauty”(para. 47).On April 16, 1963, from the jail of Birmingham, Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote an extensive letter to eight clergymen who attacked his work for civil rights in a public statement released on April 12, 1963. Martin Luther King, Jr. aimed this letter at those eight leaders of the white Church of the South. However, the eight clergymen’s letter and the response from Martin Luther King, Jr. were publicly published. Martin Luther King, Jr. wanted to convince of the utility of his commitment in this particular area at this specific moment.
To persuade his readers, Martin Luther King, Jr. appeals to his own reputation and wisdom. Second, he tries to arouse sympathy in the readers to influence them emotionally. Finally, he appeals to logic, supported with evidence and citations from influential thinkers. This paragraph starts with a delicate yet strong statement from King whom wants to say, “Honest confession that over the past few years has been gravely disappointed with the white moderate.
The imagery used in his topic sentence, “honest confession,” gives you the impression that he is opening his deepest and most heart felt feelings then; when he is disappointed “gravely,” as he said, by the white moderate’s reactions to his direct action, you begin to feel a prejudice towards them from the very start. This imagery is continued when King states his “regrettable conclusion” about what the real obstacles King also relates the white moderate’s main argument, the idea that direct action is not necessary and that all problems are resolved over time, with an unrealistic image.
King states that the white moderates actions or inactions are guided “by a mythical concept of time,” which leads the white moderate to believe that there is a “more convenient season,” which must be on a later date. This argument also ties into an argument made in a later paragraph which starts by saying, “such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills.
It comes to King’s attention that these members of the white moderate are not of ill will, but he argues that this in essence is worse than being of ill will because “Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. ” Not only does Martin Luther King Jr. give the white moderate a negative connotation, but also when told “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action,” he relates the white moderate’s argument with a father telling a child to wait for he wants.
The white moderate “paternalistically believes that they can set a time table for another man’s freedom. ” This argument is subtle yet effective because the idea is a paradox, in that you cannot be paternal in relation to a man, someone who has reached manhood or maturity. The overall meaning and essence of the letter written by Martin Luther King Jr. while he was in jail gave the white leaders and black leaders a reason for negotiation on the cause for desegregation.
Martin Luther King Jr. as successful in his attempt to lead a non-violent protest in light to his feeling for Gandhi and make a huge accomplishment once again for black African Americans in the city. The protests which lead to Martin Luther King Jr. to Birmingham jail gave a chance to help desegregation take place and leave a positive impact on the people of color, and the whites. The Letter from the Birmingham jail made a huge impact and change on the lives of thousands of African Americans.Letter From Birmingham City Jail: An Appeal of Logic, Emotions, and Personal Conviction In persuasive essays, authors attempt to help their readers consider a point by using a variety of techniques to present their arguments. To captivate a reader’s attention in an appealing way, they offer logical reasoning, emotional testimonies, and their own personal convictions to present different arguments in favor of their platform. These three phenomena, known as logos, pathos, and ethos, are valuable tools in any writer’s work.
In “Letter from Birmingham City Jail,” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. writes to the clergymen as an argument supporting civil disobedience, asserting his mission to end segregation through a series of peaceful protests. In order to inspire his captive audience, Martin Luther King effectively uses ethos, pathos, and logos throughout the letter to reinforce his persuasive appeals. One way authors present their arguments is through a series of logical appeals and reasoning, which is partly what “Letter From Birmingham City Jail” aims to do.
This concept, called logos, is the presentation of different key ideas. From the opening of his letter, King clearly states his objective, “To try and answer [the clergy’s] statements” regarding his “unwise and untimely” protests (King 205). However, to merely state his arguments is not enough. Reading the World explains, “while evidence provides the basis for an argument’s support, how we apply logic to that evidence is part of how we make that argument effective” (Austin 597). To justify reasons by explaining their motives is key to persuasion.
What exactly is King’s objective in organizing silent protests? He explains: “I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice… I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace…we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive.
We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with” (King 209). King justifies protests against segregation by arguing that white city officials do not recognize the connection between social justice and law and order. He wants them to make the association and realize segregation in the south is the true source of racial tension. Once segregation laws become lifted, such rigidity would be relieved. In sum, ethos, pathos, and logos are all necessary and equally important criteria in composing a persuasive letter or document.
In utilizing the three, Martin Luther King is able to present a logical argument in favor of desegregation backed with emotional support in a professional format. “Letter to Birmingham City Jail” was a significantly influential piece of writing during the Civil Rights Movement and drew a substantial amount of awareness towards advancement in racial equality. Had King not made use of all three, his letter may not have been as effective, or might have never contributed to the end of segregation as we know it.