How Martin Luther King Developed His Argument in “Letter from Birmingham Jail”
Letter from Birmingham Jail Inspiration is needed by literary in order to craft a brilliant literary work. This inspiration helps the writer create a persuasive article for contemporary readers. A persuasive literary piece must contain a logical appeal that incorporates reason, facts and documented evidence to express the intended point. King wrote the letter to address the laxity of the clergymen to quell the unjust laws and segregation of Negroes in the south. The clergymen had criticized King for fighting inequality in their city, while the clergy were commending Birmingham police for keeping law and order within the city. King wrote a response stating that it was his right, and that of the church to fight inequality in every part of America. King first addresses the clergymen then uses logic to express his own perspective.
The clergy had called King an extremist, and he responded by stating historical figures that are considered heroes, but were regarded as extremists during their time (King, 30). Persuasive writings must draw support from well known figures and events of the past. King talks of Apostle Paul, Jesus Christ, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln. These people had campaigned for the freedom of the Jews and Americans. King was fighting for the freedom of African Americans suffering at the hands of the whites in Birmingham. A writer can use facts and evidence from past events to support the argument in order to persuade the audience. King talks of how the Birmingham police had mistreated peaceful protesters, and that he expected the clergymen to support his call for equality. The clergymen had gone ahead to praise the police for controlling the protests.
A writer must gain credibility by illustrating his or her character to the reader and by explaining why he is trying to express in the literal work. This gives the reader an insight into the meaning contained in the written work. King begins by explaining the reasons as to why he is writing the letter. He is in Birmingham because of the injustices experienced by the people and as a president of the Christian leadership conference. By giving these reasons, King makes an emotional appeal to the audience and establishes his credibility. This makes an ethical appeal by building a moral character as an activist and a leader in a Christian conference. He compares himself to Apostle Paul who travelled to different countries in Europe condemning injustices and spreading the gospel (King and Peter, 45). He explains that it is his duty to carry the gospel beyond his home town just as Paul did. This stirs the emotions of the reader since it serves as a reminder of held values.
King illustrates his disappointment and love for the church to capture the imagination of the audience. The use of imagery in written work captures the attention of the reader and helps persuade the reader. King explains how police in the jail kick old black men and young boys and mistreats old women and young women (King 35). The Birmingham police release their dogs to protesters and watch as they sink their teeth into the flesh of Black people. He breaks apart the immoral laws discriminating against the African Americans in Birmingham and the duty of the church in defending those laws. The use of imaginary helps persuade the clergymen that segregation is morally, politically, and socially unjust.
King, Martin L. Letter from Birmingham Jail: “I Have a Dream” Speech. Logan, Iowa: Tale
Blazers Perfection Learning Corp, 2007. Print.
King, Martin L, and Peter, Lillback. Letter from Birmingham Jail. Bryn Mawr, PA: The
Providence Forum, 2003. Print.