Martin Luther King Jr's Most Effectual Appeal in the

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After the Birmingham, Alabama newspaper published "The Public Statement by Eight Alabama Clergymen" calling Martin Luther King Jr.'s activities "unwise and untimely," King wrote a response back from jail arguing each point the clergymen had made in their "Public Statement." In the "Letter from Birmingham Jail," King points out that he is not an outsider since the people of Birmingham invited him and that since they are all within the United States, nobody should be even considered an outsider. Being a fighter of injustice, King says, he sought to negotiate with the white community of Birmingham, but they refused to comply. Then, he illustrates to them that the tension amongst the groups is many times good because it leads to action and negotiation. He further explains that calling the actions of Negroes "unwise and untimely" is denying them justice, which they have been waiting for too long. Moreover, King explains that laws can be just and unjust, and that he will only obey just laws that agree with the moral code and disobey laws that do not unlike the white churches, which permit prejudice and hate even though they should preach brotherhood and love. Lastly, King points out that Negroes will win their freedom in the end because it is their right and God's will. To argue his points in the "Letter" King uses each of the three rhetorical appeals: ethos, pathos, and logos. In this essay, I will try to prove that one appeal is more effective than the rest, but first in order to help one understand what these appeals mean, I will use Arthur Quinn's definitions of what the three appeals entail. The first appeal, the ethos, tries to persuade an audience to agree with an argument by using the reputation and character of the speaker or writer. For instance, a well-liked political leader might hold a strong ethos in the eyes of his constituents, and therefore his opinions on issues might convince his constituents to hold the same opinions whether or not they...
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