Letter from Birmingham Jail

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Letter from Birmingham Jail

By | December 2012
Page 1 of 4
Dontay Phillips
10:45-12:10 TR
King Paper
Letter from Birmingham Jail
Martin Luther King Jr. wrote one of his most famous works while confined in a jail cell. He wrote this as a response to a statement written about him by eight Alabama clergymen. In the letter King uses many methods to convey his message about things going on in Alabama. King mainly uses logos, pathos, and ethos to express his point in “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”

In the letter King utilized the power of human emotion to explain to the clergymen the importance of his being in Birmingham for the demonstrations. Early in the letter King stated “We were the victims of a broken promise”, quickly getting the clergymen to be empathetic to his disappointment. He explained how he had tried to negotiate without having to come to the demonstrations, but the businessmen had backed out of their agreement and surely the clergy must relate to his frustration about the broken promises. King continued, speaking more directly, when he said “In spite of my shattered dreams, I came to Birmingham with hopes that the white religious leadership of this community would see the justice of our cause and, with deep moral concern, would serve as the channel through which our just grievances could reach the power structure.” Here he aimed directly at the clergymen targeting their religion as well as their livelihoods. In a way he used shame to exemplify how they had played a hand in him being in Birmingham. Had they helped, had they gotten even a few to show compassion, then maybe his visit could have been avoided. Again, when King wrote: “In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love,” he used guilt. Not only did he shame them for not being on top of their game, but he forgave them in the same sentence. He showed them true Christian love even when they had not done the same for him. Another example of King using pathos to express his point...