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Three Modes of Appeal

Martin Luther King was a man who made a difference in history. When Rosa Parks refused to move from the front seat of a bus, it made him take the challenge to change racial segregations in school and public places nationwide. King wanted to change African Americans and other races lives to where they could have the same right as any white person. He believed everyone should have equal rights and opportunities. On April 12, 1963, King was arrested and was taken to Birmingham Jail by the Public Safety Commissioner Eugene.

While he was in jail, he received a letter from clergymen, who were also pastors/reverends, questioning his behavior.

When he replies to the letter he received from the clergymen, he used the three modes of appeal to help his audience understand, feel, and believe his words coming from his responsive letter. The three modes of appeal he used on his letter were logos, ethos, and pathos. He used those modes of appeals so that his audience could feel his words and hear his words even though it was coming from a letter.

He wanted his readers to understand where he was coming from. The clergymen were not his only audience, his letter was also for the white moderates, and for all the African Americans he was fighting for.

White moderates were those who knew and understood what King was fighting, the rights he kept protesting for and kept going to jail for, but would not do anything to back him up.

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In this letter here relies on evidence that is factual, objective, clear, and relevant to the topic. “Just as the prophets of the eighth century B. C. left their village and carried their “thus saint the Lord” far beyond the boundaries of their home towns and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Taurus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of Greco Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town.

Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonia called aid”(King 495). In this statement Dr. King uses logos mode of appeal. He is comparing his acts to factual evidence and is relevant to the topic. He compares how Apostle Paul and the prophets of the Lord carried the word of the Lord Jesus Christ to places far from their village and how he as well can carry his beliefs of freedom. Their beliefs were not allowed in many places. They went far and beyond to spread the word of Jesus so that others could hear them out and make a difference.

Just as the prophets and Apostle Paul did what they had to do King also went far and beyond spreading his beliefs to make a difference in people’s lives. King also used ethos mode of appeal in his letter. He established credibility and character on the issue. He called on the readers’ sense of fairness and trust. “Sometime a law is just on its face and an unjust law in its application. For instance, I have been arrested on a charge of parading without a permit. Now, there is nothing wrong with having an ordinance, which requires a permit for a parade.

But such an ordinance becomes unjust when it is used to maintain segregation and to deny citizens the First Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and protest” (499). Here he is giving his readers a sense of fairness. He says how is it against the law to protest without a permit even though it was done in a peaceful manner, but it is ok to get a permit and be loud and out of control about it. “I have tried to stand between these two forces saying that we need emulate neither the “do nothingism” of the complacent nor the hatred and despair of the black nationalist. For there is the more excellent way of love and nonviolent protest.

I am grateful to God that, through the influence of the Negro church, the way of nonviolence became an integral part of our struggle (502). King is giving himself credibility by telling his readers he does not mean harm in his protest. He protested in a love and nonviolent way. He tries to gain their trust by letting them know he does not mean his protest to harm anyone. The last mode of appeal was pathos. It is an appeal by use of emotions, he appealed to the readers heart.

It is highly emotional. “Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say “Wait. But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mother and father at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policeman curse, kicked, and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can’t go to a public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling down her eyes when she is told Funtown is closed for colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean? ”; when you take a cross country drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliates day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”……” (498). This is a partial example of ethos.

King is not only explaining how the life of a colored person is, but he is also explain with detail of how a colored person lives. He is giving the reader enough details to picture it, touching their hearts, and giving the reader an emotional response with these words on his letter. King wrote this letter expressing himself by using the three modes of appeal. He gave the readers a piece of his mind and thoughts to the letter he received in Birmingham Jail. King made a difference in time because he believed he could make a difference, he knew what words to use and what to say to make a difference. Now segregation no longer exist thanks to Dr. King.

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Three Modes of Appeal. (2016, Dec 28). Retrieved from

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