A Rhetorical Analysis Of Mlk's Letter From Birmingham Jail

625 Words 3 Pages
Lauren Solouki
April 11, 2016

Rhetorical Analysis of MLK’s Letter from Birmingham Jail
Martin Luther King Jr.’s nonviolent demonstrations against segregation in Birmingham resulted in his imprisonment causing much controversy. From the Birmingham jail, Dr. King responded to a public statement of concern issued by clergymen of the South who criticized his actions as “unwise and untimely.” He successfully discredits their claims and defends his right to protest by speaking as their equal and most importantly, an appeal to logic or logos
Martin Luther King Jr. establishes himself as one within the group of the clergymen so he is seen as less of an outsider and more of someone who is trustworthy. By doing so, he establishes himself as a credible
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For example, he justifies his cause for protest by distinguishing the difference between just and unjust laws. He provides an example of an unjust law, that “everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was ‘legal’…It was ‘illegal’ to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany.” He draws a correlation between the circumstances of the Jews during the Holocaust and the current circumstances of African Americans in America. He indirectly forces the clergymen to think about how a good Christian would deal with the situation. Would they would help those in need and break the law or just stand idly by. He also justifies his so called “extremist” actions by providing examples of times when extremist actions led to necessary changes in the world. He asks, “was not Jesus an extremist for love… was not Amos an extremist for justice…was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel… was not Martin Luther an extremist… and John Bunyan… and Abraham Lincoln… and Thomas Jefferson.” He equates his actions to the actions of these historical and religious figures and makes the point that if their actions are seen as righteous, his should too. He proves that extremist actions may sometimes bring about positive and necessary change, which is what he intended to do. These are but a few examples of how MLK uses an appeal to

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