April 16, 2013
On April 16, 1963, from a jail in Birmingham, Alabama, Martin Luther King Jr. composed an extensive letter to eight clergymen who condemned the timing of the civil rights movement. Although the letter was addressed to these eight clergymen, the Letter from Birmingham Jail speaks to a national audience, especially King’s “Christian and Jewish brothers. His peaceful but firm letter serves as a persuasive voice to an immensely chaotic mess, and is seen as a major turning point in the civil rights movement. King believes that without direct action, the full rights for African Americans could never be achieved. He defends the impatience of people in the civil rights movement, upholding that without forceful demonstrations, equality will never be reached. King upholds that human rights must take priority over unjust laws. His powerful language and use of classical argumentation make his case convincing. King’s expert use of pathos invokes anger, sympathy and empathy; his impeccable use of logos made his argument rational to all; and his use of ethos, especially his use of biblical references, makes his opinions more authoritative.
Through his descriptions, passionate tone, and expressive examples, King’s arguments evoke an emotional response in his readers. King’s use of pathos gives him the ability to inspire fellow civil rights activists, evoke empathy in white conservatives, and create compassion in the minds of the eight clergymen and the rest of his national audience. King seeks to lessen the aggression of white citizens while energizing the passion for nonviolent protest in the minds of African Americans. King cautions, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”, and African Americans must stand up for their rights. As King describes the incredible horrors African Americans endure on a daily basis, he attempts to suggest a gentle response in white conservatives, generating a contradiction against...