Martin Luther King

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Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail" was a response to "A Call for Unity" by eight white clergymen. His letter was a rebuttal to the clergymen's unjust proposals. He informs the clergymen of his views and the reasons for his “direct action” on the issue of desegregation. King also attacks the “white moderate” on their actions and expresses his disappointment with their unconstitutional measures. His powerful words, "...it is even more unfortunate that the city's white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative." By using the phrases "even more unfortunate" and "no alternative", King is able to emphasize that there was absolutely nothing else the Negro population in Birmingham could do. After devising this compelling statement, King then proceeds into his argument concerning the essential steps of any nonviolent campaign. King's asserts the reasons and underlying conflicts that are fueling the unrest among blacks and whites in Birmingham. He explains the existence of an injustice; the intense segregation present in Birmingham. In fact, he uses extremes such as "Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States," to strengthen his point of view.

King was patient and understanding to the views of the clergymen. He seeks common ground throughout the letter bringing up points they made and politely arguing them and creating an answer for the possible counter-argument. For example, he points out the clergymen’s claim, "You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws." This then leads him into a discussion about morals and the types of laws: "just and unjust." By logically breaking down the types of laws and using reason to portray situations when laws can and should be broken, King is essentially guiding the audience through his explanation.

Through the use of specific rhetorical strategies King effectively contested the clergymen's argument. His success was also due to...
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