Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the most influential figures of the 20th century. From extremely motivational speeches to incredible pieces of writing, King fought for basic human rights for the black community and all victims of injustice. He fought for his cause in peaceful and nonviolent protests which helped bring his message across to many people. This inspirational man was brutally shot and killed while standing on a balcony in a hotel.
The Letter From “Birmingham Jail” was written by King as he was in jail for protesting segregation without a permit.
The letter was written in response to the writings of white clergymen in Alabama about King. This letter was used to let many people know about the issues that he is protesting to change and why. King wrote about his strong opinions about how many clergymen and white moderates did not like the tension that his protests were causing, even though they supported Kings cause. King felt disappointed in them even though they believed that what King was fighting for was a good thing.
King then mentions multiple cases where his family and other black families find injustice and racism throughout society and that it is not fair. King starts by addressing his fellow clergymen, then talks about how he has been successful with his nonviolent protests, then mentions how unfair the treatment of the black community has been for many centuries. He uses these great points in his letter that helped persuade many people. The skill and technique of persuasion used in his letter is incredible and is still noticeably talked about today.
In Kings “Letter From Birmingham Jail”, he uses excellent examples of ethos, logos, and pathos in order to persuade his audience.
When someone uses their credibility to help persuade, it is called ethos. King is a very accomplished man and there are many ways in which he can display his credibility. King addresses the letter saying it is for his fellow clergymen. This displays that he has the experience of being a religious leader which will appeal to his audience, the white clergymen. Being a religious figure, he is also a role model and very moral. He uses this method because he forces the white clergymen to see that they have something in common with him which will show that he is an influencer just like them. During a time where people were only noticing the differences in each other, the way King addresses his fellow clergymen shows unity in them.
The use of logos is when someone uses facts or data in order to make their argument more persuasive and believable. King uses this method when he lists the four steps needed in order to have a nonviolent protest. King strived for nonviolent protests and said that first there must have many facts that show the injustice that is going on, the skill of negotiation is very important, there must be confidence that no one will not retaliate under pressure, and there must be direct action. When he makes this list, he presents this information as a fact because it has worked for him in the past. He is known for his peaceful protests and now he is sharing his way of achieving that. He is using logos in his letter because people like and are easily impressed with facts. The audience will take into consideration his viewpoints if he shares the steps of his unfailing nonviolent protests.
Emotions are often used in arguments about injustice and this is something King knew that strong emotion is one of the best persuaders. King mentions in his letter that black people have waited over 340 years for God-given rights and constitutional rights that every other citizen already has. When people read about how unfair that treatment is, it should strike a strong emotion that makes a person consider how the arguing side is really feeling and what experiences they are going through. He uses this method because it can be hard for people to see or understand things that are not fair. When more privileged people are exposed to the truth in an emotional way like that, it causes them to think of the reversed situation. They are forced to think of themselves and their families facing that situation.
King has become known as one of the best influencers and a great writer due to his methods of persuasion and the way he presents it. He utilizes the proofs of ethos, logos, and pathos in such a way that his letter became extremely famous. By addressing his fellow clergymen, it shows his credibility to the audience. When mentioning his four steps for a peaceful protest, this shows that he is sharing his methods and facts that have worked for him. Finally, he addresses an emotional appeal to the reader by talking about the struggle it is to be faced by something extremely unfair for centuries while other people do not have to face this same injustice. Great progress started to take place during the civil rights movement, all thanks to Kings powerful writings and speeches.