Martin Luther King Jr.'s Letter From Birmingham Jail

Good Essays
In a land that promises life, liberty, and prosperity, the spirit of the African American people had been ridiculed and relentlessly robbed of these freedoms as exposed in Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter From Birmingham Jail. Even though our Founding Fathers established these rights to all of the people in 1787 and slavery had been abolished in 1865, a negro’s life did not fall under this covenant of freedom. Hostility and intolerance plagued these times, and someone needed to put an end to the oppression. Too much scarlet red had oozed out of the lives of innocent negro men, women, and children. Martin Luther King Jr. was one of those individuals who rose up and fought for justice and freedom. His letter, Letter From Birmingham Jail, paints …show more content…
As King wrote, “One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty” (King 3). Most people agree with this statement. Here, King explained the correct way to go about an unjust law. He stated that when a law is unjust, it must be broken for the sake of the good. He also mentioned that everyone must take responsibility for his or her actions, and everyone must also do this in a nonviolent manner. With this said, society must also support these protestors. “Society must protect the robbed, and punish the robber” (King 4). This is yet another statement from King that screams logic. Unfortunately, parts of society back then did not possess the logical capacity to comprehend this concept. In the days when segregation ran rapidly, society decided to throw innocent African American victims away in a putrid jail cell while allowing the real criminals to walk freely. King saw the major flaw in this logic, and marked it down in his letter. In sum, he insisted that society should assist those in need, and punish those who harm others in the name of

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Good Essays

    Martin Luther King’s letter from Birmingham Jail was written to respond to white religious leaders who criticized his organization’s actions against racial prejudice and injustice among black society in Birmingham. The letter is a plea to both white and black Americans to encourage desegregation and to encourage equality among all Americans, both black and white, along all social, political and religious ranks, clearly stating that there should be no levels of equality based upon racial differences.…

    • 626 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    On April 16th, 1963, during the peak of the Civil Rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote to a collection of clergymen in regards to his beliefs and protests. In his “Letter From Birmingham Jail,” King aptly wrote to the clergymen about their concerns in a respectful manner, while maintaining his dignity and explaining his purpose. In order to validate his points, he first built his credibility, and from there flowed into a plethora of other strategies. His emotional anecdotes and insight are strong points in his letter, appealing to the clergymen’s sense of compassion and justice. The imagery that accompanies his writing creates vivid and horrifying scenes meant to encourage the reader to join King in his civil rights endeavors. Logically, King presents his values in a manner that becomes inarguable against, which furthers the persuasive value of his writing. His…

    • 1284 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    In the Letter from Birmingham Jail written by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., King addressed the concerns of the white clergy and gave support to the direct action committed by African Americans. He writes how the white church is often disappointed in the African American’s lack of patience and how they are quick to be willing to break laws. Despite this, the clergy never questions whether or not segregation is unjust. During this period in the 1960’s, King was disappointed by the way the white clergy was not in support of the religious civil rights movement and King’s goal of equality as a whole. King goes on to write that he is disappointed that white moderates care less about justice and more about order. Order can only be held for so long whilst injustice is around. Through the masterful use of analogies and undeniable examples of injustice, King’s disgruntled response to the clergies proves the justification for direct action taking place to establish equality for African Americans.…

    • 524 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Letter to Birmingham Jail

    • 401 Words
    • 2 Pages

    In Martin Luther King Jr.’s "Letter from Birmingham Jail," He’s responding to a statement made by clergymen in Alabama about his dealings in Birmingham, Alabama. In this letter King uses rational ideas, moral values, and emotion to establish to the clergymen as well as the "white moderate" why civil rights should be granted to African Americans. In his letter King uses powerful literary tools that strongly match his views. He uses similes to help the audience understand not only the historical foundation of why segregation is immoral, but the awful emotional effects that segregation and discrimination has on the African American people who are experiencing it. King uses realistic imagery to give the reader an idea about how segregation harms a person’s character. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail" had a great effect on the audiences because of his skilled use of pathos throughout the essay.…

    • 401 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    King uses syntax when he scribes his thoughts about just and unjust laws. In particular, he describes unjust laws as codes that are out of harmony with the moral law and not rooted with eternal law, and a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey, but does not make it binding on itself. Since he describes a just law as a man-made code that squares with the moral law or law of God and uplifts human personality, Dr. King is saying that a just law is much more preferable to our society (742). After telling about the difference between just and unjust laws, he explains to his audience, in his opinion, a way to break unjust laws. One way to do this is to bring awareness to the law and how it is unjust without breaking the law. Also a group of people can stand up against the unjust law by talking before a group of legislators or some form of court. He also tells us that some laws may be both just and unjust. He writes “Sometimes a law is just on its face and unjust in its application” (743). Laws like no parading without a permit, seems like a just law on the outside, but also tends to include peaceful protesting and boycotting. Another example is the inability to vote or segregation of schools and public places. Although African Americans have been affected by multiple unjust and just laws, they continued on their journey to gain equal rights in…

    • 1393 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    In his “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, King talks about the difference between unjust and just laws. He tells us that everyone has a moral code to adhere to with accordance the laws that are just. Yet, the laws that are seen as unjust, should be unfollowed by the people. According to King, just law is a moral law or the law of God, whereas unjust law is made up by humans and does not have anything common with eternal and natural law. MLK would advise the people to disobey this act in any way possible, an unjust law is not one that should be followed. MLK was very adamant about this, the laws that are unfair to the people are meant to be disobeyed in order to hopefully change…

    • 486 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    In 1963 from Birmingham jail, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested for being a partaker in nonviolent demonstrations against segregation. While imprisoned, Dr. King wrote a letter in response to a public statement issued by eight Alabama clergymen addressing these diplomatic acts. Dr. King’s letter conveys his argument by approaching the clergymen’s statement rhetorically. Although his letter targeted all the rhetorical transactions effectively, pathos is one of the components that helped convince his audience by creating an emotional response to the clergymen’s argument. Beside Dr. King littering his letter with pieces of pathos here and there in conjunction with logos and ethos, there are some sections that exclusively use pathos. In his letter, he discusses whether his direct actions were “untimely and unwise,” police brutality, and the courageous acts of the sit - inners and demonstrators.…

    • 607 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    Dr. Martin Luther King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail" is a response to Dr. King's follow clergymen criticism. The topic of Dr. Kings letters from a Birmingham prison is the nonviolent protest being done in Birmingham, Alabama in the fight for African Americans civil rights. Some clergymen, mostly white American men, believe the nonviolent protest Dr. King and African Americans were during was "unwise" and "untimely". The main argument Dr. King is making in the letter is the protest being done in Birmingham is "wise" and most important "timely". The way Dr. King constructs his argument is as if he was preaching his argument to his congregation. Take for instance when the part of the letter when Dr. King talks about different men, both biblical…

    • 172 Words
    • 1 Page
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    Martin Luther King, Jr. a civil rights activist that fought for the rights of African Americans in 1963. King organized various non-violent demonstrations in Birmingham, Alabama that resulted in his arrest. While in jail, King received a letter from eight Alabama clergyman explaining their concern and opposition to King and his non-violent actions. This letter occasioned his reply and caused King to write a persuasive letter "Letter from Birmingham Jail," justifying his actions and presence in Birmingham. Although King’s reply was addressed to the Alabama clergyman, its target audience was the white people. King understood that if he gained support from the white American, the civil rights movement would reach its goals much faster. In his letter King effectively manipulates language and tone to strengthen his argument against the complaints of the clergyman and successfully address the white people. Throughout the essay, King uses several powerful tones to complement his strong opinion…

    • 458 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    During the Spring of 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led about a thousand African-Americans through non-violent protests in the business district in Birmingham. Unfortunately, he and other top activists were thrown into jail by Birmingham police in retaliation and were treated under harsh conditions, as did all African-Americans. On the day of his arrest, the Birmingham, Alabama newspaper published The Public Statement by Eight Alabama Clergymen called King’s activities “unwise and untimely,” calling for the community to renounce protest tactics that caused unrest in the community, to do so in court and “not in the streets.” King wrote back from jail arguing each point the clergymen wrote in their “public statement”. In the Letter from Birmingham Jail, King writes point by point his reasons for coming to Birmingham and the actions he had committed and why he wishes to continue his fight for equality. King successfully employed the use of Logos, Pathos, and Ethos by arguing back on legal, historical, and political grounds.…

    • 749 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    In 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote “Letter from Birmingham Jail” from jail in Birmingham, Alabama in response to a public statement issued by eight white clergyman calling his actions “ unwise and untimely”. African Americans have been waiting to have there civil rights of freedom, but the social courts has requested them not protest on the street but to take it to court. Dr. King wrote, “This wait has almost always meant never.” This is why Dr. king addresses this matter in a letter about the battle of segregation. He hopes that this letter will stop this injustice matter, and show what the African American desire. Furthermore, Dr. King had four steps to achieve his goals by collecting facts, negotiation, self-purification, and direct…

    • 254 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    Mlk Rhetorical Analysis

    • 1193 Words
    • 5 Pages

    In Martin Luther King Junior’s Letter from Birmingham Jail, MLK uses ethos, logos, and pathos powerfully and effectively to present his argument that the discrimination of African Americans all over the country is unbearable and should be outlawed forever. King wrote the letter in Birmingham, Alabama after a peaceful protest against segregation which was King’s way of reinforcing his belief that without forceful, direct actions (such as his own), true civil rights could never be achieved.…

    • 1193 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    Martin Luther King 's use of figurative language in "Letter from Birmingham Jail"� is an effective way for him to reinforce his thesis about non-violent protest and race discrimination. The figurative language in the letter enhances the letters persuasive qualities of pathos, ethos, and logos to evoke emotion and sway readers toward King 's point of view. King is the President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which was formed in 1957. He was arrested for protests of a non-violent nature against racial injustices in Birmingham, Alabama and wrote this letter to the eight Alabama clergymen while in jail. Through the figurative language in his letter he creates a bridge between his letter and white moderates, so that all readers can see his point of view.…

    • 1213 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    "Martin Luther King Jr.'s letter from Birmingham Jail, which was written in April 16, 1963, is a passionate letter that addresses and responds to the issue and criticism that a group of white clergymen had thrown at him and his pro- black American organization about his and his organization's non- violent demonstrative actions against racial prejudice and injustice among black Americans in Birmingham. King writes the letter to defend his organization's actions and the letter is also an appeal to the people, both the white and black American society, the social, political, and religious community, and the whole of American society to encourage desegregation and encourage solidarity and equality among all Americans, with no stratifications according to racial differences. King's letter from Birmingham Jail addresses the American society, particularly the political and religious community of the American society. Specifically, King's letter addresses three important groups in the American society: the white American political community, white American religious community, and the black American society. King addressed these communities as the primary groups wherein racial segregation is continuously proliferated (the white American political and religious community) and points much of his arguments to and for his fellow black Americans in the society. King's main thesis in writing the Birmingham letter is that, racial segregation, or injustice to the black American society, is due to the continuous encouragement of the white American society, particularly the powerful communities in politics and religions. King defends his primary thesis all throughout the length of his letter, and the arguments that he has made to prove that his thesis is true and valid will be the focus of this rhetorical analysis. In addressing and confronting the problem of injustices among the black Americans in the American society, particularly the violence that had happened in Birmingham, and…

    • 408 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., in his “Letter to Birmingham Jail”, argues that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. King’s purpose is to explain how a just law should be followed, and how unjust laws, such as segregation, should not. He supports this claim by appealing to logos, ethos, and pathos.…

    • 755 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays