Martin Luther King Jr.’S Persuasion in “Letter from Birmingham Jail”

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Martin Luther King Jr.’s Persuasion in “Letter From Birmingham Jail” After being arrested and imprisoned in Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote one of his most famous works to the people of Birmingham, titled “Letter From Birmingham Jail on April 16, 1963. This piece speaks of the evils of the segregation laws and how the blacks had been treated unfairly in Birmingham, in an attempt to get the white people to support the desegregation of Birmingham. He had been imprisoned because of his participation in a civil disobedience protest, and he is arguing that, even though the white people of Birmingham see the black’s way of protesting as wrong, it is a justified way to fight back against the unjust laws. In “Letter From Birmingham Jail.” Martin Luther King Jr. uses rhetorical strategies in order to convince the people of Birmingham that the segregation laws are unjust and that the people of Birmingham should support the African American’s acts of civil disobedience and their attempts to end segregation. Martin Luther King Jr.’s goal in “Letter From Birmingham Jail” is to convince the people of Birmingham that they should support civil disobedience and the eventual end to the segregation laws in Birmingham. . He approaches his argument with logic and appealing to the people of Birmingham’s emotions. He seeks to make them see the logic behind their protesting and make them feel ashamed and embarrassed by the way that they have been treating the African Americans. He proves his authority through his explanation of his experience “as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every Southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia” (King 232), and he emphasizes the importance of addressing the situation to him when he says, “seldom, if ever, do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas”, referring to the people of Birmingham’s resistance to the civil protests that he has been leading in Birmingham (King


Cited: King Jr., Martin Luther. “Letter From Birmingham Jail.” Mercury Reader: Writing Responsibly, Communities in Conversation. Eds. Janice Neulieb, Kathleen Shine Cain, and Stephen Ruffus. New York: Pearson, 2011. 229-247. Print.

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