19 January 2015
Letter From Birmingham Jail
On April 16, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested in Birmingham, Alabama for leading a protest and parading without a parading permit. As an amazing and inspiring leader he was, Martin Luther King Jr., in his letter “Letter From Birmingham Jail,” defends his strategy of nonviolent resistance to racism and oppression. King’s purpose of writing the letter was to explain to the clergyman what he was doing in the town of Birmingham and why he was not “untimely and unwisely.” King uses multiple rhetorical strategies in his letter to make it stronger. Three of these strategies are ethos, anaphora, and allusions.
Martin Luther King Jr. implements ethos in his letter as an effective rhetorical device to gain credibility from the Bible and from his beliefs. First, King takes credibility from the Bible saying “Was not Jesus an extremist for love: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”’ With this quote, King is telling the clergymen that he did not care if they labeled him as an extremist. He felt that, just Jesus was an extremist for love; he was an extremist for ending racism and gaining his rights. Secondly, King mentioned, “I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.” By mentioning this, he has established his credibility to a greater extent. With this, he is showing that these protest and other things are happening all over the southern part of the United States and King was strongly apart of it. Lastly, through the first ten paragraphs King uses history to set up his credibility.
Martin Luther King Jr. utilizes anaphora in his famous letter as a powerful rhetorical device to build cadence and rhythm. “Was not Jesus an extremist for love…...
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