Analysis of Martin Luther King Jr.'s Letter from Birmingham Jail

Topics: Logic, Rhetoric, Martin Luther King, Jr. Pages: 3 (972 words) Published: September 8, 2012
Every writer needs an inspiration to craft a brilliant literary piece. Whether this inspiration is tangible or intangible, it is still necessary. Some forms of inspiration come as passionate love while others appeal as injustice. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail" was a response to "A Call for Unity" by eight white clergymen. His inspiration for writing the letter was the clergymen's unjust proposals and the letter allowed him to present his rebuttal. Martin Luther King Jr. effectively crafted his counter argument by first directly addressing his audience, the clergymen, and then using logos, pathos, and ethos to refute his opponent's statements and present his own perspective.

After stating the general purpose of his letter, Martin Luther King Jr. specifically addressed the clergymen to set up for his logical counterargument. He wrote, "You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement... fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations." Martin Luther King Jr. first lays a foundation for his counterargument by addressing a flaw in his opponent's argument. This direct statement then takes a turn as he slowly develops the notion that the demonstrations were inevitable and necessary. His powerful words, " is even more unfortunate that the city's white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative." By utilizing the key 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 logical argument concerning the essential steps of any nonviolent campaign. King's analysis of the reasons and underlying conflicts that are fueling the unrest among blacks and whites in Birmingham utilizes logos. He explains the existence of an injustice, which is the intense segregation present in...
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