Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Martin Luther King's letter from birmingham jail

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Analytical Analysis of Martin Luther King’s

“Letter from Birmingham Jail”

As the father of modern civil rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther king, Jr., is recognized around the world as a symbol of freedom and peace. Born on January 15, 1, King was the son of an Atlanta pastor. King also received the Nobel Peace Prize in December of 164. He was arrested in Birmingham, Alabama for participating in a march for which no permit was issued by city officials. On April 16th of 16, an imprisoned Martin Luther King Jr. began to write a response to a letter that was published in a local newspaper from eight clergymen. These men scorned Dr. King’s protests calling them “ unwise and untimely.” Through his “Letter from Birmingham jail”, King expressed his ideas and reasons for his actions. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham jail” conveyed a sense of tensions during the civil rights movement era. Martin Luther King used ethos, pathos and logos to express his ideas and thoughts in the letter.

King used ethos to strengthen his views in the letter. Ethos. Ethos is author’s reputation, credentials and trustworthiness in an argument. In the second paragraph, King mentioned that, “I have the honor of serving as president of Southern Christian Leadership conference…”(841). By mentioning that, he has established his credibility to a greater extent. Through the first ten paragraphs King uses history to set up his credibility. Through quoting Bible verses and stories, he is able to convey to the Clergymen that he is virtuous and holy man. King said, “So I am Compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to Macedonian call for aid”(841). While establishing his virtuous nature to the clergymen, he also demonstrates his wisdom. He does so by quoting from many historical figures such as Socrates, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, as well as many other well-known leaders and reformers. He also shows a substantial knowledge of the laws. His core argument focuses on the justice, which is a God given right that he and his people were not receiving. This idea is supported through the use of court cases and historical situations that are relevant to his argument. This allows the clergymen to understand better from where King’s argument grows.

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Martin Luther King used pathos to persuade his readers. Pathos is a part of argument which touches the emotions of the reader. He sighted a personal incident which placed readers into an emotional roller coaster …when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammered as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she cant go to the public amusement park ….and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children…(844). Child is considered a child no matter what color or race. Nobody wants to see a child cry. He also mentioned torments and tortures on blacks. He described cruel behaviors of police towards blacks in jails. He said that, “Hate-filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brother and sisters and vast majority of twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty” (844). He continues to explain the cruel punishment and behaviors blacks receive and their reasons to demand change now. In the fourteenth paragraph, Martin Luther king explained described why Black’s life as, “…you spend night after night in your car because no motel will accept you. Day and night you are humiliated by nagging signs; when your first name is “nigger” and middle name is “boy”….(845). King tried to put his readers into the shoes of blacks and the discriminations received, by using “You”. He said that. for more then two centuries “Our forebears labored without wages; they made cotton …built the homes of their masters while suffering gross injustice and shameful humiliation-and yet they continued to thrive and develop. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail”(85).

Martin Luther King uses logos to further strengthen his arguments. Logos is a logical appeal in an argument. Throughout the letter, King has established himself as well educated and well informed. He gave a very clear definition of “just and unjust” laws “Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distort the soul and damages the personality.”(845). It gives a false sense of inferiority and superiority to the people in a society. King further argued ineffectiveness of bad laws by giving an analogy that, “ If law and justice fail, they become dangerously structured dam that blocks the flow of social progress” (847). The analogy asserts that Bad law and order is to progress as a dam is to water. He also gave example of Hitler. He said that “ Everything Hitler did was legal and everything Hungarian did in Hungary was illegal“ (846) . According to Hitler’s Germany, extermination of Jews was legal but unjust. He implied that segregation and discrimination against Blacks is legal but unjust. Martin Luther King strengthened his argument by logically clarifying a meaning of being an “extremist”. He referred Jesus, Paul, Martin Luther as extremists motivated by “love, truth and goodness”(850) , much like himself.

King allowed his reader to gain an insight into his views and opinions through this letter. He based his letter on ethos, pathos and logos to convey and explain his views. Civil rights movement was significant in his letter as he was trying to persuade and educate the clergymen about the injustice and harm done to Blacks. He provided an authoritative, an emotional and a logical based argument to explain his actions and views.





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