Argumentative Strategies In Letter From Birmingham Jail Essay

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Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” is an excellent example of an effective argument; it was written in response to an editorial addressing the issue of Negro demonstrations and segregation in Alabama at the time. He writes in a way that makes his argument approachable; he is not attacking his opposition, which consists of eight Alabama clergymen who wrote the editorial. This is illustrated in his opening sentence: “My dear Fellow Clergymen” (464). King was an activist for civil rights during this time, and came to Alabama to help out his fellow brothers that were facing opposition. He was concerned with the monologue rather than dialogue that was going on during this time in Alabama; where each side would talk about the…show more content…

Here the audience sees that King addresses the problem of “shallow understanding from people of good will,” saying that “lukewarm acceptance is more bewildering than outright rejection” (470). King proposes that these white moderates stop being passive and wait around; rather they take a stand either way. He incorporates credible sources, prime examples, and refutes any argument that the clergymen might have. King proves himself and his argument through examples, and he answers every aspect of the clergymen’s letter, making his argument a strong and informative one.

I have found that in argument I am more willing to negotiate and talk with another if they allow themselves to be open-minded, or criticized in their views. For example, when my friend Tyler and I were arguing over the meaning of predestination in the Bible, I would give him time to explain to me his thoughts. He believed that predestination as is stated in the Bible should be taken in the literal sense, that God chose people to become saved and therefore we as humans have no control over our salvation. In turn, he listened when I addressed my views on predestination, which consisted of my thoughts that predestination should be taken in a

Alex Kim Rhetorical Usage Analysis: Letter From Birmingham Jail In 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. would have been found in a stark, cold prison cell, etching words onto a newspaper – a quite deplorable setting for a famous, influential civil rights leader to be placed in. But perhaps, such a setting made his work seem all the more impressive due to the fact that his words was able to reach out and affect so many out there outside the unforgiving bars confining him. One would have never imagined the sheer strength and power of those words that he wrote that very moment – the power to reach out beyond and penetrate the hearts and minds of many. He was writing a letter addressed to the clergymen who had criticized his works and recent protest efforts in Birmingham, Alabama. However, his intent was beyond simply that; he was addressing the entire community to broaden the scope of his message and influence. In this letter, King expresses his purpose with articulation: to persuade the Negro audience to take initiative and rectify the injustices they had suffered from. He successfully asserts his will with conviction by employing the various rhetorical techniques in his arsenal to instigate the clergymen and society as a whole into action following his direction through the use of fiery, ardent diction and clear, unequivocal logic. This is found most prominently in paragraphs 13 and 14 of his Letter from a Birmingham Jail , in which he uses pathos – the emotional appeal – as the vanguard of his rhetorical arsenal alongside logos, ethos, and effective writing style and utilizes them as a combined force to influence the community. King employs ethos in his letter, justifying his position and strengthening his credibility. He establishes himself as part of the Negro community in the first sentence of paragraph 13 by using “we” – a powerful method of making his position appropriate to the situation and strengthening his argument against the clergymen by establishing himself as an understanding


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