Rhetorical Analysis Of Martin Luther King's Letter To Birmingham Jail

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Martin Luther King was a well-known civil rights leader. Despite being arrested on several occasions, he did not let a prison cell keep his influential words locked up. One of his most notable works includes “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” It was a response to the Alabama clergymen who accused him of being an outsider and had no credentials to be a part of the Birmingham community. King, however, countered all of their demeaning arguments and emphasized that he was peacefully fighting for racial equality. Martin Luther King Jr. enhanced his letter with personal, historical, and present day references to build pathos directed at the clergymen and other opposers. Dr. King made several personal references to typical family members and assaults …show more content…
had many opposers, including the Alabama clergymen who criticized his presence in the city and the state. In his famous letter, he utilizes pathos by creating images and ideas to enhance the emotional appeal amongst the clergymen and his other opposers. The family references made the ideas and occurrences personal to make the white audience feel sympathy or despise those committing the acts of violence and hate. On a more worldly level, Dr. King also mentioned the World War II and compared the struggles the African American community had to face to the tragedy that was still a fresh wound nearly twenty years later. The unsettling images from World War II and the sit ins that occurred were used to evoke specific negative emotions from the audience and help them understand the conflict on a deeper level. Finally, by calling a black man and people like him a hero was an effective personal reference because the thought of a hero would bring to mind someone an audience member may have idolized as a child. Martin Luther King Jr. was able to connect with the audience on several different levels from personal to worldly. Despite being locked up in jail, he was still able to unleash his powerful words towards his opposing audience, while disproving their assumptions of him. Dr. King’s eloquence and persuasion makes it easy to understand why he was an influential

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