Rhetorical Analysis Mlk Letter from Birmingham Jail

Topics: Letter from Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King, Jr., Southern Christian Leadership Conference Pages: 4 (1294 words) Published: February 25, 2013
Martin Luther King’s inspiration for writing his, “Letter from Birmingham Jail” was mainly to appeal to an undeniable injustice that occurred during his time. His letter was in response tos eight white clergymen, who objected to King protesting in Birmingham. Dr. King effectively crafted his counterargument after analyzing the clergymen’s unjust proposals and then he was able to present his rebuttal. Dr. King effectively formed his counterargument by first directly addressing his audience, the clergymen and then using logos, pathos and egos to present his own perspective on his opponent’s statements.

The majority of the sentences in King’s letter can be connected to logos, pathos or ethos and his incorporation of appeals is masterful. On more than one occasion, King uses various strategies to appeal to his audience, in the letter he writes, “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. We have some eighty-five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights.” In this excerpt, King presents his ethos very tactically. The Alabama clergy presents him as an outsider in the letter, but demonstrating his ethos, King presents himself as an insider. He is not just a man who chose to protest in an outside community, but is in fact the president of the Conference. He is a clergyman speaking to other clergymen, but also part of an organization that has a chapter in their state.

There were also other forms of ethos in his letter, King is sure to demonstrate his religious ethos by tracing his own heritage of ministerial ancestors and discussing his own church leadership. He also makes biblical references, comparing his struggle with the Apostle Paul and the prophets who spread their message to neighboring villages- similar to what King did for his people. He uses this...

Cited: King Jr., Martin L.Letter from a Birmingham Jail Fields of Reading 9th Edition. Nancy Comely, David Hamilton
King, Martin Luther, Jr. "Letter from Birmingham Jail." Invention and Design. Ed. Forrest D. Burt and E. Cleve Want. 4th ed.
Ali-Dinar, Ali B., ed. "Letter From a Birmingham Jail [King, Jr.]." African Studies Center. University of Pennsylvania. 8 Sept. 2007 .
Biographical Outline of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.‖ King Center. The King Estate, 2004. Web. 14 Feb. 2010.
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