Analysis of Martin Luther King's Letter from Birmingham Jai

In his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” it turns out that Martin Luther King had a lot on his mind that he wanted to get out and that he hadn’t just shown up to the protest to get out of preaching to his congregation for a few days. He had a philosophy and a plan and everything. In Martin Luther King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail (1963) Dr. King used the opportunity to bring everybody to light about the protests in Birmingham, what they were about (horrible racism); why the protestors were civilly disobeying (racist) laws and ordinances; why protestors had truth and equality on their side; and how Dr.

King was very unhappy with the clergymen in the South who were thought to believe in his cause but didn’t like the ‘tension’ and unrest caused by the protests. In Martin Luther King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail, King makes argues for the need of equal rights using appeals to logic, character, and emotion.

‘Letter from Birmingham Jail’ was a letter written by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from a solitary confinement cell in Birmingham, Alabama. It is know that portions of the letter were written and smuggled out, one by one, by King’s lawyer on scraps of paper including the prisons toilet paper. Violent racist terror against African Americans was so bad in Birmingham in the summer of 1963 that the city was being referred to by some locals as Bombingham.King makes a seriously devastating logical argument. The letter describes the political issues that their facing and trying to get through.

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King also talks about the consequences of the recent elections. King goes into detail about why we should pursue non-violent ways to deal with racial and discriminatory and it is the ideal way to proceed. This, King saya, eliminates each part of the argument put forward by the eight white clergymen, one by one. One of Dr. King’s basic arguments in the letter is that just laws should be followed, and unjust laws should be openly and deliberately disobeyed.

Some of the most emotionally turning moments in ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail’ come in the parts about the suffering of the African American community. In order for MLK’s argument to make sense, you have to understand why the situation is unjust. So he gives a vivid picture of what Black Americans have to go through in the segregated South. By giving this kind of example, Dr. King is allowing white people a highly relatable glimpse into the pain of the Black community. King combines the use of ethos and pathos as he compares himself and the rights of men to religious backgrounds. For example, ‘the sting darts of segregation'(king 2) is used when mentioning those who have never felt segregated(king 2).

This phrase is very powerful because it leaves the reader feeling sorry for the person who has been segregated. He also use the word’hate-filled’ (king 2) to describe how the policemen are to the colored-people. This tells the reader that the policemen at that time were very wicked. His first comparison is with the Apostle Paul, where Paul had “carried the gospel of Jesus Christ,” as to Kings carrying of “the gospel of freedom.” King talks about this comparison to show why he felt ok to go to jail, because like Paul, he needed to respond as an aid to his people. Towards the end of King’s letter; he reveals his courage in the African American demos by relating them to the actions of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego when they refused to follow what they thought to be unjust laws. Saying that if they are supposed heroes by going against unjust laws, why shouldn’t the people see Negro demonstrators the same way?

They are also God’s children and by them disobeying, they were really showing the grace of God. These connections to religion supports their fighting against unjust laws as a divine cause. Martin Luther King’s ethical standing is implied by the way he frames his argument and stakes his claim on a moral truth higher than local laws and ordinances. He out-Christians his Christian critics. He takes America’s highest cultural ideals seriously. He also references a dozen historical heavyweights, from Abraham Lincoln (King 24), to Paul of Tarsus (King 3, 24), to Socrates (King 9, 17, 21), to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (King 17), arguing that he and his followers are in this lineage of freedom fighters, countercultural visionaries, and righteous sufferers of persecution. Martin Luther King successfully communicate his message because he expresses his thoughts and emotions in a gentle and warm tone.

In ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail,’ King says that we’re all responsible for justice across the nation and around the world. Justice isn’t defined by mere laws. After all, laws are basically just words written by human beings. When unjust laws get written and people suffer as a result, it’s ok to protest those laws by non-violently breaking them, even if the resulting unrest and ‘social tension’ is inconvenient for some. The time is always now for justice, and there’s no good reason to wait for the right thing to be done by someone else. We always have to do it ourselves. King mentions that the measures he took were made in order to end segregation.. He understands that a letter of provocation would not help the situation of segregation and takes this approach in his letter to invoke action. Dr. King realizes that history shows how privileged groups do not give up their privileges voluntarily. Furthermore, through painful experience, freedom is never voluntarily given up by the oppressor, it must be demanded by the oppressed.

In the 7th paragraph, King states that ‘we were victims of a broken promise’ to show that even though they made an agreement earlier on to remove any sign of racial discrimination, the others were not concerned apart from his retaliation groups. In paragraph eight, he states that “our hopes had been blasted and the shadows of deep disappointment settled upon us” (King 4). This quote shows that king recognizes the disappointments but does not wish to blame anyone. Martin Luther King also says that he hopes that “that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood” (King 4). This was meant to unite all people in the fight against racism.

In the 14th paragraph, King uses his logical, non threatening appeal to show how important his civil right actions were in the city. He states it, clear and concise, that people have endured segregation and inequality long enough and that there are now tired of waiting for change with the way events are unfolding every day. He supports his argument in the next paragraph where he puts it across that they have been governed by a combination of unjust and just law whereby there is need to separate the two.

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Analysis of Martin Luther King's Letter from Birmingham Jai. (2021, Apr 25). Retrieved from

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