Letter from Birmingham Jail

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 7 January 2017

Letter from Birmingham Jail

On April 16, 1963, from the jail of Birmingham, Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote an extensive letter to eight clergymen who attacked his work for civil rights in a public statement released on April 12, 1963. Martin Luther King, Jr. aimed this letter at those eight leaders of the white Church of the South. However, the eight clergymen’s letter and the response from Martin Luther King, Jr. were publicly published. Martin Luther King, Jr. wanted to convince of the utility of his commitment in this particular area at this specific moment.

To persuade his readers, Martin Luther King, Jr. appeals to his own reputation and wisdom. Second, he tries to arouse sympathy in the readers to influence them emotionally. Finally, he appeals to logic, supported with evidence and citations from influential thinkers. This paragraph starts with a delicate yet strong statement from King whom wants to say, “Honest confession that over the past few years has been gravely disappointed with the white moderate.

The imagery used in his topic sentence, “honest confession,” gives you the impression that he is opening his deepest and most heart felt feelings then; when he is disappointed “gravely,” as he said, by the white moderate’s reactions to his direct action, you begin to feel a prejudice towards them from the very start. This imagery is continued when King states his “regrettable conclusion” about what the real obstacles King also relates the white moderate’s main argument, the idea that direct action is not necessary and that all problems are resolved over time, with an unrealistic image.

King states that the white moderates actions or inactions are guided “by a mythical concept of time,” which leads the white moderate to believe that there is a “more convenient season,” which must be on a later date. This argument also ties into an argument made in a later paragraph which starts by saying, “such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills.

It comes to King’s attention that these members of the white moderate are not of ill will, but he argues that this in essence is worse than being of ill will because “Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. ” Not only does Martin Luther King Jr. give the white moderate a negative connotation, but also when told “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action,” he relates the white moderate’s argument with a father telling a child to wait for he wants.

The white moderate “paternalistically believes that they can set a time table for another man’s freedom. ” This argument is subtle yet effective because the idea is a paradox, in that you cannot be paternal in relation to a man, someone who has reached manhood or maturity. The overall meaning and essence of the letter written by Martin Luther King Jr. while he was in jail gave the white leaders and black leaders a reason for negotiation on the cause for desegregation.

Martin Luther King Jr. as successful in his attempt to lead a non-violent protest in light to his feeling for Gandhi and make a huge accomplishment once again for black African Americans in the city. The protests which lead to Martin Luther King Jr. to Birmingham jail gave a chance to help desegregation take place and leave a positive impact on the people of color, and the whites. The Letter from the Birmingham jail made a huge impact and change on the lives of thousands of African Americans.

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  • University/College: University of Arkansas System

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 7 January 2017

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