letter from birmingham jail rhetorical analysis prezi

Letter from Birmingham Jail

Martin luther king, jr., everything you need for every book you read..

Racism  Theme Icon

Plagiarism checker

Writing help, paraphrasing tool, rhetorical analysis of “the letter of birmingham jail”.

How it works

The “letter of Birmingham Jail” was written by Martin Luther King on April 16, 1963. He wrote this letter from his jail cell after him and several of his associates were arrested as they nonviolently protested segregation in Birmingham, Alabama. The eight clergy men called his present activity “unwise and untimely” and stated that racial matters should be properly pursued in the courts and not the streets. After Martin Luther King looked over the clergymen’s unjust propositions he efficiently constructed his counter argument as he directly started his letter “my dear fellow clergymen”. His letter gives the philosophical foundations of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and does a good job by giving specific examples that appeal to logos, pathos, and ethos.

Martin Luther King first starts off his letter by using a strong ethos appeal, by establishing his credibility to the clergy men after they referenced him as an “outsider coming in.” He first addresses them by saying, “My Dear Fellow Clergymen.” By saying this MLK is considering him as one of them showing that he is no different and deserves the same respect as they would want to be given. He then continues to address them in his introduction with respect and a cordial tone. Not trying to fight or disrespect them as he refers to them as “men of genuine good will and that your criticism is sincerely set forth” (King 273), but still speaks strongly upon his side of the statements that were made. MLK then establishes his credibility by saying, “I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty-five affiliated organizations across the south, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights” (King 273). He makes this statement to show he is not an outsider but presents himself as an insider, as he is the president of the conference. He is informed about the crisis going on in Birmingham as he has a chapter in their state and was invited there to help fight the discrimination. Showing that he takes the cultural ideas of him and his followers very seriously and is there to fight for them.

Martin Luther King also establishes ethos throughout his letter by outlining his own culture of religious ancestors and deliberating his own church leadership. King references a dozen historical figures from Abraham Lincoln, to Paul of Tarsus, Socrates, to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and many more. He Compares his fight for freedom with the Apostle Paul and the prophets fight for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Martin Luther King then backs up his view of just and unjust laws with many political figures who set laws that were made to be broken for the rights of the people that faced injustices. As he refers to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego “It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire” (King 277). He continues these connections all throughout his letter to further justify his actions, stating if these large political figures have done it in the past to voice their opinion and be heard than what’s any different than him doing the same. As King is just following the path of his ministerial ancestors. This appeals to ethos as it validates king’s quality educational background.

King also uses serious logical arguments throughout his letter as well, his letter states the facts of the situation going on in front of them in a way the clergymen failed to do. Each one of the arguments put onward by the clergymen MLK put down and refuted with facts that were undeniable. He analyzed his opponents’ statements put forth then picks it apart backing up each little part with his collection of facts. He uses logos to first bring forward the racial injustices that engulf Birmingham stating, “Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation. These are the hard, brutal facts of the case” (King 274). After stating the racial injustices that have been going on for too long he continues to logically reply to the question asked Why direct action? “Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue.

It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored” (King 274). Showing that his plan for direct action is not unwise and supposed to be untimely as they have waited to long for change and now it’s time to force negotiation. He then addresses the clergymen’s anxiety over their willingness to break laws. As King states that just laws should be followed, and unjust laws should be openly disobeyed. In order to get people to agree with him on just vs. unjust laws he needs to do more than appeal to the readers pathos and ethos. He does this by describing just and unjust laws from multiple different angles, in ways the reader could relate to. “A law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had no part in enacting or devising the law. Who can say that the legislature of Alabama which set up that state’s segregation laws was democratically elected” (King 277)? This puts it in perspective making it hard for the reader to refute. King also uses a strong sense of logos when describing the two sides of the community “one is a force of complacency, made up in part of negros who, as a result of long years of oppression, that have adjusted to segregation” (King 279), and “The other force is bitterness and hatred, and it comes perilously close to advocating violence” (King 279). This passage in the letter shows the clergymen the two different sides. MLK doesn’t take time to justify these two groups of their rights and wrongs, but rather backs them up with facts that result in their actions. Showing that even if he remained unbiased that the black community would have acted regardless, and that the nonviolent action could very well have turned violent without the help of his organization. He backs up each of the clergymen’s arguments with logical evidence to his stand point on the topic.

Martian Luther King was also good at incorporating strong pathos into his letter. He made the reader sympathize with what the black people were going through on a day to day basis. He painted a picture of the violence they faced, the injustices, and brutality they had to endure. He pulls on the audience’s emotions making them more likely to side with himself rather than the clergy men. One of the statements made by the clergymen was that they warmly commended the Birmingham police for keeping “order” and “preventing violence”. MLK says “I doubt that you would have so warmly commended the police force if you had seen its dogs sinking their teeth into unarmed, nonviolent Negroes” (King 283). He uses such intense words in this short sentence that really just leaves a picture in your mind. Showing the readers that the cops were actually the violent ones in the nonviolent protest that was going on, they’re the ones causing the harm instead of preventing it. Not only does he describe the brutality given by the cops he also describes the injustices done by the people and the community.

King says “having to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told the fun town is closed to color 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 towards white people” (King 275). He continues to go on and on about the things they go through every day. This excerpt is strong appealing to the emotions of parents as no mom or dad would ever want their kids to feel that pain and carry it with them. He is also telling them this needs to be stopped and can be with the next generation. MLK also includes many metaphors in the letter to create that image in the readers mind and to make important arguments. For example, “Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity” (King 279). He compares the social situation with an “elegy” and the potential future to a “creative psalm”; racial injustice to “quicksand”, and the ultimate goal as a “solid rock”. King had to use his platform to set it straight as there were only newspapers at the time to capture the major brutality’s if they were lucky. He used numerous examples of sad and heart aching pathos, he did it to get his point across, making the white moderates feel what it was like to live in the life of a colored person. King also squeezed in a couple uplifting pathos reminding us of the beautiful opportunity’s that await them. As he closes the letter by saying “Let us hope in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty” (King 284).

Some may say Martian Luther King could persuade anyone and anything, by the choice of his words and how he made them flow together. In “Letter of Birmingham Jail” MLK does just that. The most remarkable takeaway from this letter is Kings overall tone he keeps throughout as he could have approached his audience multiple different ways. King kept a serious but sincere voice getting straight to the point, but also persuading his audience. He refutes each one of the clergymen’s statements, breaking it down and tearing it apart by intertwining the use of logos, pathos, and ethos. By doing this he validates why his nonviolent protest is necessary for growth and to overcome the prejudices that were happening in Birmingham. Not only did he bring those injustices forward, but his letter was the stepping stone for the civil rights movement of the 1960’s, as justice was finally approaching.

Works Cited

The deadline is too short to read someone else's essay

Cite this page.

Rhetorical Analysis of “The Letter of Birmingham Jail". (2021, Jun 07). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/rhetorical-analysis-of-the-letter-of-birmingham-jail/

"Rhetorical Analysis of “The Letter of Birmingham Jail"." PapersOwl.com , 7 Jun 2021, https://papersowl.com/examples/rhetorical-analysis-of-the-letter-of-birmingham-jail/

PapersOwl.com. (2021). Rhetorical Analysis of “The Letter of Birmingham Jail" . [Online]. Available at: https://papersowl.com/examples/rhetorical-analysis-of-the-letter-of-birmingham-jail/ [Accessed: 1 Mar. 2023]

"Rhetorical Analysis of “The Letter of Birmingham Jail"." PapersOwl.com, Jun 07, 2021. Accessed March 1, 2023. https://papersowl.com/examples/rhetorical-analysis-of-the-letter-of-birmingham-jail/

"Rhetorical Analysis of “The Letter of Birmingham Jail"," PapersOwl.com , 07-Jun-2021. [Online]. Available: https://papersowl.com/examples/rhetorical-analysis-of-the-letter-of-birmingham-jail/. [Accessed: 1-Mar-2023]

PapersOwl.com. (2021). Rhetorical Analysis of “The Letter of Birmingham Jail" . [Online]. Available at: https://papersowl.com/examples/rhetorical-analysis-of-the-letter-of-birmingham-jail/ [Accessed: 1-Mar-2023]

Don't let plagiarism ruin your grade

Make sure your essay is plagiarism-free or hire a writer to get a unique paper crafted to your needs.

Plagiarized Text

Leave your email and we will send a sample to you., not finding what you need, search for essay samples now.

letter from birmingham jail rhetorical analysis prezi

Having doubts about how to write your paper correctly?

Our writers will help you fix any mistakes and get an A+!

Please check your inbox.

Don't use plagiarized sources

Where do you want us to send this sample, attention this is just a sample..

You can order an original essay written according to your instructions.

Trusted by over 1 million students worldwide

1. Tell Us Your Requirements

2. Pick your perfect writer

3. Get Your Paper and Pay

Hi! I'm Amy, your personal assistant!

Don't know where to start? Give me your paper requirements and I connect you to an academic expert.

short deadlines

100% Plagiarism-Free

Certified writers

HONS 110-07

Introduction to academic writing.

HONS 110-07

The Rhetorical Situation of Letter from Birmingham Jail 

As the Civil Rights movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s unfolded, Martin Luther King Jr. had, perhaps, the most encompassing and personal rhetorical situation to face in American history. In Letter From Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King responds to the subjectivity of law and the issue he paramounts by using precise and impactful rhetoric from inside of his jail cell. While this fight had been raging for nearly 10 years, the release in 1963 was shortly followed  by the Civil Rights Act in 1964.              

Martin Luther leading peaceful Birmingham protest, AP News

Lloyd Bitzer describes rhetorical situation as, “a complex of persons, events, objects, and relations presenting an actual or potential exigence which can be  completely or partially removed if discourse, introduced into the situation, can so constrain human decision or action to bring about the significant modification of the exigence” (6). In sum, all rhetoric has an external situation in which it is responding to. Analysing a rhetorical situation clarifies why a text was created, the purpose in which it was written, and why the author made specific choices while writing it. There are three main considerations to make while analysing a rhetorical situation: the constraints, the exigence, and the audience. Constraints bring light to the obstacles this rhetoric may face, whether it be social, political, economical, etc. and may encompass the audience, as seen while analysing Letter From Birmingham Jail. The audience of a rhetorical piece will shape the rhetoric the author uses in order to appeal, brazen, or educate whoever is exposed. Lastly, the exigence of a rhetorical piece is the external issue, situation, or event in which the rhetoric is responding to. All of these factors influence each other to shape rhetoric, which Bitzer describes as, “pragmatic; it comes into existence for the sake of something beyond itself” (3), with Martin Luther King’s Letter From Birmingham Jail being a shining example. 

In Letter From Birmingham Jail, the exigence is the continued condemnation, segregation, and prejudice afflicted against African Americans since the emancipation of the slaves in 1863. However, the racial divide was legislated in 1877 with the implementation of Jim Crow laws, which lasted until 1950. While the Civil Rights movement superseded the dismantling of Jim Crow, the social ideologies and lackadaisical legislature behind anti-black prejudice continued to rack the country far into the 1960’s. King was the figurehead of the Civil Rights movement, infamous for his “I Have a Dream” speech and substantially impactful rhetoric promoting social and political change, peaceful indignation, and calls to awareness. Martin Luther found himself arrested on the twelfth of April 1963 after leading a peaceful protest throughout Birmingham, Alabama “after he defied a state court’s injunction and led a march of black protesters without a permit, urging an Easter boycott of white-owned stores” (Jr., Martin Luther King). The eight clergymen in Birmingham released a public statement of caution regarding the protesters actions as “unwise and untimely” (King 1), to which Martin’s letter is a direct response. This protest, his subsequent arrest, and the clergymen’s public statement ostensibly make up the rhetorical exigence, but it truly stems from a much larger and dangerous situation at hand: the overwhelming state of anti-black prejudice spread socially, systematically, and legislatively in America since the country’s implementation of slavery in Jamestown, 1619. This exigence is rhetorical because it can be improved if enough people are socially cognizant, whether that be in legislature or the streets of Birmingham, through creation and enforcement of equitable laws and social attitudes. These circumstances lead us to our next rhetorical focus: audience. Who was he truly writing for?

The audience of Letter From Birmingham Jail was initially the eight clergymen of Birmingham, all white and in positions of religious leadership. However, in the months that followed, King’s powerful words were distributed to the public through civil right’s committees, the press, and was even read in testimony before Congress (‘Letter from Birmingham Jail’), taking the country by storm. While his letter was only addressed to the clergymen, it is safe to assume that King had intent on the public eventually reading his letter, considering his position within the Civil Rights movement, use of persuasive rhetorical language, and hard-hitting debates on the justification of law. With this addressed, his audience was truly the population of the United States, especially Birmingham, with a focus on those who withheld and complied with the oppression of African American citizens, even if not intentionally. This audience is rhetorical as the social and political ideologies of the American people fuel democracy and are able to change the system around them through collective effort. His writing is respectful and educated, if not naturally, to invalidate the use of his race against him by the largely prejudiced audience. It’s important to note that his initial readers/supporters greatly impacted the scope of his audience, spreading the letter through handouts, flyers, and press, in the hopes that others would be impacted for the better by the weight of the exigence at hand. His audience ranged between those who his message empowered, a radical positive force, and those who disagreed, made up of southern states, extremist groups, and the majority of American citizens stuck in their racial prejudices. Despite his support, Martin Luther’s audience is one of the largest constraints in his rhetorical situation. 

The constraints surrounding Martin Luther King’s rhetorical situation include the audience, the rhetorical exigence of the situation he is responding to, Dr. King himself, and the medium, all of which are deeply connected. Firstly, and most daunting, is the constraint of the letter’s audience. Initially, the eight Birmingham clergymen are the audience and while they were not overtly racist, King uses rhetoric meant to have them understand his urgency. As mentioned before, the social and political ideologies in America surrounding racial equity at this time, specifically in Birmingham, were extremely poor. While his supporters nation-wide were avid, determined, and hopeful, they were challenged by the opposing, vastly white population, comfortable in their segregated establishments and racist ideologies who would certainly weaponize his viewpoints. Not only was this a social division, but those who opposed King were reinforced by the respective legislature that sought to burden him. Despite his opposition, however, the letter is truly addressed to those who were not against King, but did not understand the urgency of his movement. The letter goes on to explain his choice to act directly and nonviolently, stating, “For years now I have heard the word ‘wait.’ It rings in the ear of every Negro with a piercing familiarity. This ‘wait’ has almost always meant ‘never’ (King 2). King chose to write this for a reason; to resonate with those who were not his enemies but who held back the movement through compliance. It was important for King to address this audience as their support would ultimately make the largest difference in the movement. The biases of the audience go hand in hand with the rhetorical exigence of this letter, another large constraint in the effectiveness of his message. The continuous mistreatment of African Americans for over a century was, at last, deeply questioned and challenged nationwide with the growing popularity of the Civil Rights movement, and the topic of equality for all had divided the country. All of this accumulates into an unwavering social constraint placed on Martin Luther King’s rhetorical text. To minimize the possibility of being deemed invalid due to his race, he must choose what he states and how he states it very precisely which correlates to the constraints Martin Luther himself has on his rhetorical situation. 

As a black man and pacifist-forward figurehead of the Civil Rights movement, the way Martin Luther is perceived is mostly dictated by preconceived biases and is rampant, widespread, and polarized. 

                 Martin Luther in Birmingham Jail, The Atlantic

Furthermore, exterior events regarding the movement could ultimately reflect on his influence and polarize the audience further. Greater importance is placed on his tone, choice of words, choice of argument, and credibility, for better or for worse, and he must carefully make rhetorical decisions, not only because of his race. At this time, he is representative of the Black American population and the Civil Rights Movement as a whole– he is Martin Luther King Jr., and while this is a powerful position to occupy, the constraints imposed are just as dominant. Ultimately, he effectively tackles societal constraints, whether it be audience bias, historical racism, or how he is viewed by using the power of his rhetoric to his advantage. King spins the constraining pressure to properly represent the movement on its head, using his rhetoric to uplift the underprivileged and leave no room in his language for criticism, proven by the continuous adoption of his messages by the public. 

Lastly, King is constrained by his medium. A letter, as a medium, is constraining as there is one definitive original copy, it is addressed to a small specific group, and since it cannot be directly broadcasted widely, opposed to television or radio, it must be printed or passed along analogically. Whether this be by newspaper, flyers, or restated by another in speech, the spread of information is slower and potentially more controllable. The letter was written April third, 1963, it was published for the public in June of the same year, a slower spread than a nationwide address on television or radio. Additionally, personable elements such as tone, inflection, and overall vindication behind the letter are left to be determined by the rhetorical language. There may have been advantages to broadcasting this message similarly to his “I Have a Dream” speech, which touched America deeply, due potentially to the accessible, instantaneous, and widespread coverage in American media. He was able to further interact with the audience; they were able to hear his voice, listen to the intended tone behind his words, see his face, and study his demeanor in the face of adversary. However, this constraint did not ultimately halt the spread of King’s message nation-wide, as it became a persuasive landmark of the civil rights movement, likely due to both his impactful position and persuasive use of rhetoric. 

To truly understand the effectiveness of this letter, one must rhetorically analyse the contents. Martin Luther utilizes powerful rhetoric to define his exigence. He begins strongly by explaining why he is in Birmingham in the first place, stating, “So I am here…because we were invited here. I am here because I have basic organizational ties here” (King 1), after describing his involvement in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference as president. He goes on to add; “I am in Birmingham because injustice is here” (King 1). At the time, Birmingham was one of the harshest places to live in America for African Americans; white supremacy groups would set off bombs to instill fear in the black community and withhold racial integration, and peaceful protests and sit-ins were met with unjustifiable police violence, in addition to the suffocating social qualms surrounding the black community (Eskew). Consequently, Birmingham became the core of the Civil Rights movement, pumping the life-blood of social change into the rest of the country. Being nearly symbolic, King being held prisoner in Birmingham, the most polar racial arena of the United States, made his rhetoric more effective. It elucidated the exigence behind his letter as his presented rationale behind his arrest only made unjust laws appear more asinine and questionable by relation. Martin Luther King then goes on to make an analogy to the Bible, portraying Apostle Paul’s proliferation of the gospel of Jesus Christ in parallel to his own efforts, stating, “I too am compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my particular hometown” (1). These encompass his exigence, at its most simple and precise, and validify the importance behind transforming the country in a positive way. 

The rhetorical choices referenced above are riddled with pathos, also known as language utilized to persuade the audience emotionally. Not only does he use pathos to humanize himself, but he also uses it to humanize his immediate audience, the eight clergymen. He opens with an explanation to his response, stating, “Seldom, if ever, do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas…But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I would like to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms”(King 1). By addressing his respect for the clergymen, feigned or not, he is acknowledging the effectiveness of respect to those in power, whether they may or may not deserve it. King’s decision to compare his efforts to those of biblical figures with shared intent was a deliberate attempt to find common ground with his initial readers, the eight religious Birmingham clergymen, through the faith of a shared religion. His mention of involvement and leadership within a Christian civil rights organization, strength of religious analogy, and general politeness are effective rhetorical choices used to shape how he is perceived despite his critical response, racial setbacks, and arrest: a relatable man of faith, rationale, and initiative. 

Martin Luther King’s Letter From Birmingham Jail is undeniably effective at responding to the rhetorical situation at hand. While there were consistent and impactful efforts made by various groups for equality throughout the civil rights era, the proximity between the public release of the letter, found nation-wide by late 1963, and the passing of the Civil Rights Act in early July 1964 shows the direct impact the letter had on social attitudes following its publicization. The law was written in 1962, but the powerful response pushed the courts to finalize their decision. This period of quiet speculation over the law illuminates the national divide in opinion over the matter, one which King helped persuade positively. To summarize, Martin Luther King’s rhetoric is effective and ultimately changed the course of the Civil Rights movement for the better.                 


Works Cited

Bitzer, Lloyd F. “The Rhetorical Situation.” Philosophy & Rhetoric , vol. 1, no. 1, Penn State University Press, 1968, pp. 1–14, http://www.jstor.org/stable/40236733 .

Glenn Eskew, “Bombingham: Black Protest in Postwar Birmingham, Alabama”, 1997

Jr., Martin Luther King. “Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail’.” The Atlantic , Atlantic Media Company, 29 Jan. 2021, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/02/letter-from-a-birmingham-jail/552461/. 

“‘Letter from Birmingham Jail.’” The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute , 29 May 2019, https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/encyclopedia/letter-birmingham-jail. 

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

Rhetorical Analysis Example: King’s “Letter From a Birmingham Jail”

Martin Luther King Jr. wrote the letter in a persuasive tone, which appeals to stand against racial inequality. The target audience consists of racist white supremacists and those who are victims. King uses various instances of ethos to show his credibility to readers. He introduces himself formally and then links himself to historical figures. King also makes good use of pathos to trigger the emotions of readers. He shows some prevalent forms of racism and presents possible consequences in case of failure to reform the system. In turn, King uses logos to justify his actions. He gives multiple reasons that demystify the real meaning of Just and Unjust Laws. The overview of rhetoric appeals, along with King’s ability to pursue the crowd, makes this rhetorical analysis example of MLK’s “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” stand out among others.


How to Pursue Credibility

Validity of claims, violation of human rights, threat to equality.

White Supremacy

Useful Articles

“Letter From a Birmingham Jail,” written by Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963, describes a protest against his arrest for non-violent resistance to racism. In the letter, King appeals for unity against racism in society, while he wants to fight for Human Rights, using ethos. Similarly, King uses pathos to trigger the emotional aspect of readers and pursues his audience to take real actions. Moreover, King uses various logical explanations to make clear his position and the reasons to fight against white supremacy. The letter is reflective in tone and serves to catch both suppressed people and those who are exploiting them. Thus, this rhetorical analysis example of “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” reveals King’s literary skills and his passion to perceive equality, which he accomplishes by using ethos, pathos, and logos, avoiding logical fallacies above all.

rhetorical analysis example

Summary of King’s “Letter From a Birmingham Jail”

In his rhetorical piece “Letter From a Birmingham Jail,” King writes to clergymen and share personal views on his position and racial issues in society. Basically, King is in jail because of his visions on how people should live to develop a normal community. However, clergymen provided their criticism of King’s actions and methods of achieving a common good, stating that he was wrong. In turn, King responds to clergymen’s claims by providing many arguments that support his side. He focuses on moral, emotional, logical, valid, and credible reasons for a justification of his actions and goals. King does not write that clergymen are wrong, but he thinks that the government should be more active in forming positive conditions for people of all races. As a result, King ends his letter claiming that he is just a human, like everyone, who wants to develop a better society for all. By considering this summary of “Letter From a Birmingham Jail,” King becomes a legendary person since his arguments on racial segregation touches not only clergymen but also others who want to live in a peaceful and equal society.

The use of ethos in the letter is very influential. King’s introduction of the letter is the first instance of the use of ethos. King (1963) states that he earned the title of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s President and could operate in every Southern State of the US country. Here, King creates a moral connection with readers and establishes himself as a man with authority. The use of words, like ‘president’ and ‘every,’ describes the status of the organization as trustworthy and credible, making ethos appeal stronger.

King was a remarkable speaker and knew the perfect combination of rhetorical devices for persuading his audience. In the letter, he references many notable personalities in order to set a basis for the aim of his writing. For instance, King (1963) compares himself to Apostle Paul, who set out on a journey to convey the message of Christianity all over Greece and Roman. However, the story of Paul is not the only influencing factor that King uses in his letter. King (1963) also specifies various prominent personalities, like St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine, John Bunyan, Martin Luther, and even Jesus Christ, in his letter. Moreover, King distinctively pursues his audience into believing that he wants to create a revolutionary change. This anticipated change is big enough to make it into history books and influencing enough to get recognized by many people.

References to such instantly recognizable characters are excellent examples of ethos in this literary work. King seems to understand that his whole argument and appeal are weaker. If King (1963) is not able to provide a substantial threshold for the revolution, he is conjuring. So, King’s usage of such historical elements in order to create a comparable point for his credibility. His intention is very exquisite, while obvious appeals can serve as a good example because they can draw an analogy and analyze their works much better too.

King makes the situation of human rights clear. He was jailed on the grounds of the ‘violation of court injunction’ during his 1963 protest against racism in Birmingham. Moreover, he was put in solitary confinement by different authorities. He even denied his rights to the phone call (Snyder, 2013). Additionally, King provokes serious emotions in readers. For example, as a protest against this direct abduction of basic Human Rights by Birmingham Clergymen, King (1963) writes about such manipulative issues with law enforcement, using pathos. He acknowledges that the requirement of the permit is not an issue. In turn, King expected the intervention of authorities, given that he knew about the law.

King argues that the detention of members and the treatment given is against human rights. His statement was justifiable as the protest was non-violent, and police violated human rights (Snyder, 2013). Besides, this statement is an important message for the target audience. Furthermore, King (1963) stated that African Americans have waited for long to gain their human rights. The actions and the situation of racism was a direct violation of the law of a nation as well as the law of God. He clarifies that the lack of rights is against democracy and the constitution, while Blacks deserve the ‘God-given’ rights (King, 1963). Every democratic country provides its citizen with freedom of speech, given that the actions are not violating the legal limits. Nevertheless, King argues that the situation of human rights is contrary to the definition in the constitution.

King tries to persuade readers into knowing the extensity of this situation of human rights. According to King (1963), his presence in Birmingham meant that the situation of human rights was miserable there, and his arrest by local authorities proved his point. In the same way, he has also made extensive use of pathos against white supremacy. In his appeal to Blacks to fight against racism, King (1963) writes about the life of African Americans, highlighting poverty and mistreatment. Blacks are not given the most privileges and state the backwardness of them as a consequence. Hence, this statement exclusively appeals to Blacks in an emotional aspect. The use of pathos in the rhetorical analysis example can easily help people to understand the concept of emotional appeals.

The letter includes different logical explanations. King, being an influential speaker, has added a lot of rational appeals to his work. One of the logic in his letter is his argument on the definition of ‘unjust’ law. King (1963) provides a definition of such laws and examples of how they are enforced, using common logic to decipher how discrimination exists in society, without encountering any logical fallacies. He uses the example of just and unjust laws. According to him, the law that people must follow and the law that is used to arrest him are different, and it is simply a form of ‘unjust law’ in action.

As a result, the majority of white supremacy define the law with their advantage in mind. Furthermore, King (1963) states that it is a bad thing that white supremacists leave Negroes with no other choice but to stand against them. In turn, whites discriminate against African Americans, treat them as the minority, and deny their basic rights granted by the constitution and by God himself. King (1963) justifies his presence in Birmingham by writing that he and his friends are “invited” to the prison, satirically highlighting the injustice. Moreover, King is very reflective in his letter, adding emotional appeals after logical ones to deliver needed messages. King made it clear that resistance appeared. There was no other way to eliminate the problem, and the rhetorical analysis example proved that the use of rhetorical appeals could help in delivering such a message.

Summing Up on MLK’s “Letter From a Birmingham Jail”

In conclusion, the proper use of ethos, pathos, and logos, combined with a reflective tone and King’s passion, makes the letter stand out as an excellent piece of literature as well as a motivational message. Besides, King establishes himself as a man with trustworthiness by using ethos. He wants readers to know that he wants a change that is big enough for history. King uses emotional appeals to reflect the miserable situation of Human Rights and states that his presence in Birmingham Jail is desperation. Likewise, King makes excellent use of logos to justify the rogue status of the government. So, the letter is an appeal for those who want change and a warning for those who oppose it. In turn, this rhetorical analysis example summarized by analyzing King’s “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” explains how one can use rhetorical strategies to enhance the message to people on the national level, bringing social change to life. Hence, this example can be a good rhetorical analysis sample for further learning on how to write such papers on any literary works.

For writing a rhetorical analysis, use this outline:

Fulkerson, R. P. (1979). The public letter as a rhetorical form: Structure, logic, and style in King’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail.” Quarterly Journal of Speech , 65 (2), 121-136. doi:10.1080/00335637909383465

King, M. L., Jr. (1963). The Negro is your brother.  The Atlantic Monthly ,  212 (2), 78-88.

Snyder, J. A. (2013). Fifty Years Later: Letter From Birmingham Jail. Retrieved from https://newrepublic.com/article/112952/martin-luther-king-jrs-letter-birmingham-jail-fifty-years-later

letter from birmingham jail rhetorical analysis prezi

Creative Writing Short Stories

letter from birmingham jail rhetorical analysis prezi

Workplace Leadership Essay

letter from birmingham jail rhetorical analysis prezi

Rhetorical Analysis Sample

letter from birmingham jail rhetorical analysis prezi

Memo Examples

letter from birmingham jail rhetorical analysis prezi

Academic Review

letter from birmingham jail rhetorical analysis prezi

Argument Analysis Essay Example

letter from birmingham jail rhetorical analysis prezi

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

letter from birmingham jail rhetorical analysis prezi

Narrative Writing

letter from birmingham jail rhetorical analysis prezi

Expository Essay

letter from birmingham jail rhetorical analysis prezi

Non Fiction Writing

HCCS Learning Web

HCCS Learning Web

ML King, Letter f t Birmingham Jail annotated

To print or download this file, click the link below:

Home / Essay Samples / Social Issues / Racism / Letter From Birmingham Jail

letter from birmingham jail rhetorical analysis prezi

Letter from Birmingham Jail: Rhetorical Analysis

Essay details.

Literature , Social Issues

Poems , Racism

Letter From Birmingham Jail , Rhetoric

Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.

Table of Contents

The main thing.

Get quality help now

letter from birmingham jail rhetorical analysis prezi

Verified writer

Proficient in: Poems , Racism

letter from birmingham jail rhetorical analysis prezi

+ 75 relevant experts are online

More Essay Samples on Topic

How would society progress without opposition? This is a fundamental value that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr upholds when he is standing up for what is right. In the spring of 1963, the Birmingham police imprisoned Dr. Martin ...

Madeleine Albright’s commencement speech was obviously directed towards the young graduates of Mount Holyoke College. Albright, in her speech, utilized certain words and phrases to motivate the graduating women to move forward ...

In "Backpacks vs Briefcases: Steps toward Rhetorical Analysis", Laura Bolin Carroll clarifies the requirement of rhetorical analysis to help with disentangling the reason and aim behind plenty of circumstances experienced every ...

Diplomacy was started in 2005 and was implemented in January 2006 by the secretary of the United States Condoleezza Rice during a speech at Princeton University, based on a rhetorical analysis of her speech. Rice came up with ...

Since the times of Ancient Greece, rhetorical appeals and arguments play an integral role in the development of interpersonal opinions and beliefs. The Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle defines in Rhetoric that these ...

Anna Quindlen’s “Driving to the Funeral” first appeared in the magazine Newsweek in 2007. In this essay Quindlen aims to convince her readers that we should lower the drinking age and raise the driving age. Depending on what ...

“Damaged Goods” is a collection of three short stories by Tim Winton that includes the stories ‘Damaged Goods’, ‘On Her Knees’ and ‘Family’. The first story, Damaged goods is narrated by a nameless character that tells the story ...

Kim Addonizio demonstrates the strong connection between two people in her poem “First Poem for You”. The title “First Poem for You” immediately establishes that there is some type of connection in the poem. Whether the ...

The primary aim of this paper is to provide a comparison between Adrienne Rich’s Poem titled, “A Valediction Forbidding Mourning”, and that of John Donne with the same title. The two poets employ a sophisticated poetic language ...

We use cookies to offer you the best experience. By continuing, we’ll assume you agree with our Cookies policy .

Choose your writer among 300 professionals!

You cannot copy content from our website. If you need this sample, insert an email and we'll deliver it to you.

Please, provide real email address.

This email is exists.

"Letter from Birmingham Jail": Examples of Rhetorical Devices

Profile Picture

Terms in this set (32)

Students also viewed, "letter from birmingham jail": examples of rh…, letter from birmingham jail rhetorical devices, ap q1 vocabulary.

Profile Picture

Literary Devices in King's Letter from Birmin…

Recent flashcard sets, world history vocabulary terms.

Profile Picture

Chem Fall Study Guide

Profile Picture

Cell functions

Profile Picture

Repro Exam 4

Sets found in the same folder, test items: rhetorical devices in "letter fro…, letter from birmingham jail vocabulary.

Profile Picture

Other sets by this creator

A raisin in the sun test review, anglo-saxon poetic techniques, anglo-saxon poetic techniques beowulf, short story: next term, we'll mash you, verified questions.

Who is met in London by the speaker?

Answer (a), (b), and (c). a. Briefly explain ONE specific historical argument used to oppose ratifying the Constitution in the 1780s. b. Briefly explain ONE specific historical argument used to support ratifying the Constitution in the 1780s. c. Briefly explain how ONE specific event or development represents an accomplishment of the national government under the Constitution between 1787 and 1820.

In the following sentence, circle the subject of the verb in parentheses, and above it write S for singular or P for plural . Then, underline the verb in parentheses that agrees in number with the subject.

Most of the ingredients for our supper (were, was) fresh vegetables from our garden.

Complete the sentence in a way that shows you understand the meaning of the italicized vocabulary word.

The father remained intransigent when his daughter asked ..

Recommended textbook solutions

myPerspectives: English Language Arts, Grade 7 1st Edition by Savvas Learning Co

myPerspectives: English Language Arts, Grade 7

SpringBoard English Language Arts: Grade 10 by The College Board

SpringBoard English Language Arts: Grade 10

myPerspectives: English Language Arts, California (Grade 9, Volume 1) by Prentice Hall

myPerspectives: English Language Arts, California (Grade 9, Volume 1)

myPerspectives: English Language Arts Volume 1, California Grade 10 1st Edition by Prentice Hall

myPerspectives: English Language Arts Volume 1, California Grade 10

Other quizlet sets, patho chapter 16: neuro - pain, temperature,…, angels in america : scene eight.

Profile Picture

Chapter 7 Questions

Profile Picture

Home — Essay Samples — Social Issues — Letter From Birmingham Jail — Rhetorical Analysis Of The Letter From Birmingham Jail By Martin Luther King Jr

letter from birmingham jail rhetorical analysis prezi

Rhetorical Analysis of The Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King Jr

Works Cited

Remember! This is just a sample.

You can get your custom paper by one of our expert writers.

121 writers online

Remember: This is just a sample from a fellow student.

Related Essays

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote the “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” on April 16, 1963. The logical and well put together letter was written as a response to a statement in the newspaper, which was written by some clergymen. Dr. [...]

On April 16, 1963, DR. Martin Luther King, Jr responded in the newspaper which had been written by some clergymen urging him to abandon the demonstrations which he was leading in Birmingham. In a letter, well known as the [...]

At the peak of the Civil War Movement in America on April 12th, 1963, eight Alabama clergymen made a public statement announcing that Dr. Martin Luther King’s protests in the streets should end because they promote “hatred and [...]

Keywords: Civil disobedience,Henry David Thoreau,Martin Luther King, Jr.,Nonviolence,Letter from Birmingham Jail,Civil Disobedience,Minority rights,Direct action,Social movement In Henry David Thoreau’s “Civil [...]

Dr. Martin Luther King’s letter from Birmingham Jail came as a response to his critics, especially the clergymen who denounced all his activities citing that they tantamount to incitement and unrest in the society. However, King [...]

Over the course of Letter from Birmingham Jail (1963), the author, Martin Luther King Jr., makes extended allusions to multiple philosophers, among them Aquinas and Socrates. His comparison would seem to indicate that he shares [...]

Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Jesus, all these radical men and more are alluded to in Martin Luther King Jr’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” His use of their names in the context of this paper creates a form of kinship [...]

The Stoic way of life described in Epictetus’s Enchiridion (135 A.C.E.) is characterized by a freedom from anxiety and being highly aware of the limitations of humanity. The Enchiridion is a list of 52 principles [...]

For this paper, I am going to analyze King’s Letter From Birmingham Jail and Lincolns’ Inaugural address and discuss how the two connect but also discuss what separates them. In reading, both I felt that many things connected [...]

Find Free Essays

We provide you with original essay samples, perfect formatting and styling

Cite this Essay

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below:

Related Topics

By clicking “Send”, you agree to our Terms of service and Privacy statement . We will occasionally send you account related emails.

Where do you want us to send this sample?

By clicking “Continue”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy.

Be careful. This essay is not unique

This essay was donated by a student and is likely to have been used and submitted before

Download this Sample

Free samples may contain mistakes and not unique parts

Sorry, we could not paraphrase this essay. Our professional writers can rewrite it and get you a unique paper.

Please check your inbox.

We can write you a custom essay that will follow your exact instructions and meet the deadlines. Let's fix your grades together!


Are you interested in getting a customized paper?

We use cookies to personalyze your web-site experience. By continuing we’ll assume you board with our cookie policy .

We can help you get a better grade and deliver your task on time!

letter from birmingham jail rhetorical analysis prezi


letter from birmingham jail rhetorical analysis prezi

Rhetorical Analysis Of Letter From Birmingham Jail

While in solitary confinement for nearly 8 days, reverend and social justice activist, Martin Luther King Jr., wrote his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail in response to the criticism he received for his non-violent protests. Several clergy who negatively critiqued King’s approach of seeking justice, wrote A Call for Unity, arguing that his protests were senseless and improper. Within the article, the clergymen provide nine different critiques that asserted how King’s protest are invalid, uneffective, and simply unintelligent in the fight for obtaining justice and equity for individuals of color. His letter has become one of the most profound pieces of literature of the 20th century, as King uses vivid examples and eloquent rhetorical devices to counter all nine arguments.

Rhetorical Analysis Of A Letter From Birmingham Jail

In “A Letter From A Birmingham Jail” Martin Luther King Jr defends his use of nonviolent protest in order to accomplish racial equality. In the letter, Dr. King uses ethos, diction, and allusions when defending nonviolent protest which makes his argument really strong. His goal is to make the clergymen help him fight racial equality.

King first shows the intended audience why exactly he is writing this letter then builds on his previous experiences and intentions. In very first paragraph he says that because of the criticisms that the clergyman wrote were “sincerely set forth”(214) that he decided to write the letter. He then uses his position as President of the SCLU to explain that he is in Birmingham “because injustice is here”(214). After fully explaining why he is there he builds into his support and leadership of direct action to help end discrimination. Direct action is the first step after negotiations fail to get support for a cause, mainly civil rights. A supporting example for direct action is when anti-segregation leaders were at a conference they were promised

The “Letter from Birmingham Jail” was written by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when he was in jail during a severe problem in Birmingham. Speaking of the problem, Dr. King says in the letter, “[l]et us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty” (quoted in Jacobus 392). Dr. King was engaged in civil disobedience in order to achieve harmony and justice between the opposing races; however, he faced many obstacles before getting even close to his goals. King’s letter was written in response

Martin Luther King Jr. was able to transmit the oppression of African American from a jail cell through the “Letter from Birmingham Jail”. With more than 6500 words, Martin Luther King Jr. touched the subject of segregation and injustice of the African American. One cluster that stood out the most was cluster 30, where King was able to explain why the African American was forced to express their birth given right of freedom after endless promises of justice during the Civil Rights Movement. Through the use of Logos, Martin Luther King Jr. was able to connect with the reader by using logic to convince his audience and quoting passages from Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and Prophet Amos. Furthermore, by the use of pathos Dr. King was

Through words and literary devices, language allows people to express beliefs to their audiences. During the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. utilizes language to encourage his audience to take action against segregation, especially the white moderates, who are his biggest hurdle in achieving his goals. In his famous letter, "Letter from Birmingham Jail," King uses metaphors, rhetorical questions, and allusions to create pathos and ethos, while discussing his dissatisfaction concerning the white moderates, who wish to minimize the urgency for action in the battle for equality.

Direct action was the best way to go about the segregation issues in America during the civil rights movement. Civil disobedience is the active, professed refusal to obey certain laws, demands, and commands of a government, or of an international power. The use of pathos was very crucial in convincing people who read the message to change their ideals on segregation. Martin Luther King is writing a letter while in jail because of civil disobedience. Ethos was used on page 6 of letter from Birmingham jail “While confined here in the Birmingham city jail”. MLK chooses his words very carefully to use the most passion in his writing. His word choice of “confined” really shows how he feels being trapped in jail. MLK uses Logos very often in his

Martin Luther King Jr. once wrote a letter, from a Birmingham jail, addressing a few clergymen on their opinion concerning his motives, throughout the letter King uses rhetoric in order to persuade readers. King uses these rhetoric appeals such as logos, pathos and ethos in order to persuade every person who reads his letter, there are many strong points made by King throughout the letter but some of his strongest moments might have been his referencing of the Bible. Considering that King was a Christian, his reference to biblical figures improves the effectiveness of his arguments; therefore, King is creating an argument based off of something that many people would relate to. By relating to a greater audience one can make a more powerful

In the "Letter from Birmingham Jail" by Martin Luther King, he uses logos and pathos to effectively argue nonviolent protest movement is wise and timely.  In his first point, Martin Luther King Jr. says that it is historical truth that groups with privileges often do not give those up by themselves. In the second part, Martin Luther King Jr. says that he has always heard the word wait when talking about gaining their freedoms, but he thinks that the wait means never.

Dr. King has delivered two masterpieces of work that have many similarities and differences. He wrote the “Letter From Birmingham Jail” along with his famous, “I Have a Dream” speech. Both writings focus the topic of segregation and are meant to be persuasive. To accomplish this, rhetorical devices are used in both such as charged language and allusion. Charged language is usually used when things are meant to be felt deep inside. This rhetorical device stirs up emotions inside the readers. On the other hand, allusion is used to give the readers some real sense into what’s happening. When using allusion, usually the readers get a sense of logic. This being said, I definitely think these two pieces of writing compare in this aspect. In my opinion, the speech was more emotional, in other words, pathos. In this piece, he wants to show people how unfair blacks are being treated and tries to prove to the world that they should be treated equally. In comparison, Dr. King’s letter was more logos, logical towards the reader. In his letter, Dr. King wants to prove how badly blacks are treated and talks about how everyone should agree that people of color should have rights. He also makes a

Fifty-two years ago, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. found himself surrounded by four walls in a Birmingham jail. Profoundly thinking about the rough road ahead for the civil right moment he was laying the groundwork for. If you could just put yourself in his shoes for a moment, perhaps you would understand why he had such a fiery passion for civil rights and also; understand how he felt. Imagine feeling terrified being incarcerated, pondering the unknown, thinking intensely of every single thought he writes to the clergymen defending the tactic of nonviolent resistance to racism. A competent individual would most likely feel afraid or anxious, hesitant, disgust, even madden after experiencing such a horrific and biased experience.

“A Letter from Birmingham Jail” written by Martin Luther King was an extremely influential letter that was articulated and presented into a masterpiece. The most important understanding is the core meaning of the letter that King wrote was emotional, but most of all an argument. On April 12, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. was incarcerated in Birmingham, Alabama, for protesting against the racial segregation that was taking place at the time. Injustice was taking place in Birmingham, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was invited to help and support the protests of this segregated city. King was considered an “outsider” for doing such actions. Martin Luther King Jr. used the three rhetorical appeals logos, ethos, and pathos to try to persuade the city that he was neither an instigator nor an outsider.

Letter From Birmingham Jail Thesis

King states in his letter that he was first disappointed that fellow clergymen would see his nonviolent efforts as those of an extremist. He says the he is in the middle of two opposing forces in the Negro community and that he has tried to balance the forces. He implies that he is a nonviolent protestor and he does not agree that he was being extreme in his actions.

I feel emotionally traumatized while reading the letter from Birmingham jail by Martin Luther King. I cannot imagine that although many people were Christians, black people were still inhumanely treated and marginalized during segregation period. I believe Martin Luther King is a hero, considering the way he was so courageous and optimist to peacefully fight for freedom of black community regardless of the consequences. He says that whatever happens to one of them will affect the whole community, so they should work together as people of United State. This essay reminds me of the history of my own country, Rwanda, where many people lived abroad as refugees for many years due to the ethnicity segregation, fortunately some courageous men among them decided to fight for freedom, many of them died but their good cause has been achieved.

In his early years, Martin Luther King Junior served as a president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a position which made him not only famous but also vocal in in fighting for civil rights for the minority African Americans (Samad, 2009). As a religious and civil rights leader, he was requested by Members of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights group to join them in a "nonviolent direct-action program" in Birmingham to protest the segregation-ingested city. The city leaders including the mayor, police commissioner, and the governor were all segregationists (Samad, 2009). As a result, the town had become an unbearable place for African Americans to coexist peacefully with the whites. Because of protest, all protesters

More about Rhetorical Analysis Of Letter From Birmingham Jail


Rhetorical Analysis Of Letter From Birmingham Jail

Compare i have a dream and martin luther king.

Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the most influential figures of the American civil rights movement. Famous for his prowess with words, King was known for writing powerful texts throughout his life. Two of his most famous compositions were his “I Have A Dream” speech and his “Letter From Birmingham Jail”. Although King uses many styles of writing effectively, his writings with pathos are the most prominent. Since “I Have A Dream” uses more pathos than “Letter From Birmingham Jail”, “I Have A Dream” is more effective at inspiring change.

The Rhetorical Analysis Of Martin Luther King Jr.

Pathos is used to obtain the feelings of sympathy or pity, and Martin Luther King Jr. uses it to his advantage by pointing out many examples of the harsh treatment towards the black

Throughout his letter Martin Luther King makes many ethical appeals by relating it to god. For example in the beginning of his letter Dr. king addresses his readers as “My Dear Fellow Clergymen,” this shows that he is letting the reader know his role as a religious leader. When someone thinks of someone with that role they automatically presume he or she is honest, trustworthy, and credible. He then compares his extremist attitude to those of Jesus Christ, Amos, and Paul. He uses is history within the church and says “I am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson, and great grandson of preachers,” by Dr. King stating that it automatically gives him credibility it gives the reader knowledge of his postition. He uses his knowledge of important public figures and their ideals on justice, love and equality to support his claim. In his letter he writes “Jesus an extremist in love? -- "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you" Was not Amos an extremist for justice?..Was not Paul an extremist for the gospel of Jesus Christ? -- "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Was not Martin Luther an extremist? -- "Here I stand; I can do no other so help me God." Was not John Bunyan an extremist? -- "I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a mockery of my conscience." Was not Abraham Lincoln an extremist? -- "This nation cannot survive

Rhetorical Devices In Letter From Birmingham Jail

Throughout King’s letter, he uses the rhetorical ploy of redefinition to show his audience that the measures he takes are not one of an “extremist”. He takes his audiences definition of an extremist and takes it to a new level where being an extremist means fighting for your cause. “Was Jesus not an extremist for love...Was Amos not an extremist for justice…was Paul not an extremist for the Christian Bible”(king 10). King uses examples of people who embody peacefulness as well as people group clergymen could not argue the legitimacy of. When the author redefines the meaning of

Essay about King's Argument in A Letter from Birmingham Jail

In Dr. King's essay 'Letter from Birmingham Jail' he addresses the claims made about his arrest by the eight clergymen. His responses are very long and detailed, giving a very compelling and moving point of view. His letter is directed to his audience, which consists of white middle class citizens who Dr. King refers to as the 'white moderates'. Dr. King's letter is very persuasive because his use of pathos makes the audience think or imagine themselves in the situation. It is very poignant of him to write his letter this way. He is in touch with the views of his audience, which makes a greater impact on his readers. Dr. King uses antecdotes to make his readers see the injustice

Examples Of Logos In Letter From Birmingham Jail

In the “Letter from Birmingham Jail” Martin Luther King uses pathos, logos, and ethos to really convey his message. Though he uses all three very effectively, King most effectively uses pathos and logos by giving illustrations of what African Americans faced every day, examples in history in which the law was not right, and the make-up of a just or unjust law.

Rhetorical Analysis Of Letter From A Birmingham Jail

In 1963, the rights and the equality for African Americans was a cause constantly fought for. Protests and marches took place in order to push for a change in the society, to make a world where equality is achieved. In a Birmingham jail, sat a civil rights leader named Martin Luther King Jr.. Placed in this cell due to a protest held in Birmingham, Alabama when there was a court order stating it was not allowed, King wrote a letter that has become an influential and infamous piece of writing. This letter became known as, “The letter from a Birmingham Jail”. This letter calls out to the criticisms placed on King and confronts them all. In this letter, through rhetorical devices such as pathos, logos and ethos, and other rhetorical devices.

Examples Of Pathos In A Letter From Birmingham Jail

King heavily implied pathos for the readers and listeners to get a strong sense of emotion for what blacks were going through, the major moments of pathos in "Letter from Birmingham Jail" come in the parts about the suffering of the African American community. In order for Dr. King's argument to make sense, you have to understand why the situation is unjust. So, Dr. King provides a vivid picture of what Black Americans have to go through in the segregated South, their day to day lives, what the black community is permitted and not permitted to do. Through this very visual narration he provides multiple examples where his words tug on your heart, and makes the reader put themselves in Dr. Kings shoes, or the other victims of segregation’s shoes. King tries to place this audience into the shoes of the black people by giving vivid descriptions of the trials they have been going through and invoke empathy in their hearts. He says: "When she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see the depressing clouds of inferiority begin to form in her little mental sky, and see her begin to distort her little personality by unconsciously developing a bitterness towards white people.” He implies the idea of white mother and fathers having to explain the segregation concept to their young kids, it is something good parents would loathe to do. Another example includes, “lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright

Pathos And Logos In Martin Luther King's I Have A Dream

Martin Luther King’s use of Pathos and Logos in “I have a Dream” showcases how he uses the devices to inspire others, compared to how he uses these rhetorical devices in “Letter From Birmingham Jail” to persuade the Clergymen. Martin Luther King, also referred to MLK, uses both Pathos and Logos to fit the audiences and occasions for each text. His uses of Pathos and Logos in these two texts are examples of how words can inspire change.

How Does King Use Ethos In Letter From Birmingham Jail

In this analysis ,”Letter from Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King’s was exhibiting his skills in the usage of Ethos, Logos ,and Pathos to respond to his fellow Clergymen who blamed him for organizing the blacks to demonstrate and make the whole world aware of how they are been treated in the Birmingham community. After reading King’s letter I have realized that he was such a passionate and strong man who was able to fight to the end to achieve his goal, had it not because of his actions the injustice will still be going on in this country up till now. Despite everything his opponents do to bring him down, he still stood strong to fight for the black community. I was also impressed about his work of art and the choice of words that he uses to make his letter a success. After I finished reading the essay I felt sad for him going to jail and the punished he experienced over there, but it takes one person’s sacrifice to save the rest.

Although most of Dr. King’s speeches and works appeal to more of a emotional and inspirational in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” there is more of a pathos appeal. He paints a picture of the discrimination that is happening during the 1960’s and how the African American were segregated from everything in the United States right to which water fountain they could drink from. Martin Luther King describes the moment where he had to explain to his six year daughter why her skin color was not accept in society. He starts

Rhetorical Analysis Mlk Letter from Birmingham Jail Essay

Martin Luther King’s inspiration for writing his, “Letter from Birmingham Jail” was mainly to appeal to an undeniable injustice that occurred during his time. His letter was in response tos eight white clergymen, who objected to King protesting in Birmingham. Dr. King effectively crafted his counterargument after analyzing the clergymen’s unjust proposals and then he was able to present his rebuttal. Dr. King effectively formed his counterargument by first directly addressing his audience, the clergymen and then using logos, pathos and egos to present his own perspective on his opponent’s statements.

Rhetorical Analysis Of Letter To Birmingham Jail And Civil Disobedience

In the Article “Letter to Birmingham Jail” Martin Luther King Jr uses the rhetorical analysis triangle to address the issue that the eight clergymen had with him being in Birmingham. Martin Luther King uses Logos, Pathos, and Ethos to appeal to clergymen’s logic, emotion, and ethics. Pathos was used to appeal to the emotions of the clergymen when he speaks about how the black people in Birmingham are suffering. He also uses imagery

Mlk Rhetorical Analysis Essay example

In Martin Luther King Junior’s Letter from Birmingham Jail, MLK uses ethos, logos, and pathos powerfully and effectively to present his argument that the discrimination of African Americans all over the country is unbearable and should be outlawed forever. King wrote the letter in Birmingham, Alabama after a peaceful protest against segregation which was King’s way of reinforcing his belief that without forceful, direct actions (such as his own), true civil rights could never be achieved.

Related Topics

We've updated our privacy policy. Click here to review the details. Tap here to review the details.

Activate your 30 day free trial to unlock unlimited reading.

Letter from birmingham jail 1


You are reading a preview.

Activate your 30 day free trial to continue reading.

Apush review-key-concept-8.3-revised-edition

Check these out next

letter from birmingham jail rhetorical analysis prezi

Download to read offline


letter from birmingham jail rhetorical analysis prezi

More Related Content

Slideshows for you (20).

letter from birmingham jail rhetorical analysis prezi

Viewers also liked (15)

letter from birmingham jail rhetorical analysis prezi

Similar to Letter from birmingham jail 1 (20)

letter from birmingham jail rhetorical analysis prezi

More from naughtonkyle (20)

letter from birmingham jail rhetorical analysis prezi

Recently uploaded (20)

letter from birmingham jail rhetorical analysis prezi

Editor's Notes

Share Clipboard

Public clipboards featuring this slide, select another clipboard.

Looks like you’ve clipped this slide to already.

You just clipped your first slide!

Create a clipboard

Get slideshare without ads, special offer to slideshare readers, just for you: free 60-day trial to the world’s largest digital library..

The SlideShare family just got bigger. Enjoy access to millions of ebooks, audiobooks, magazines, and more from Scribd.

letter from birmingham jail rhetorical analysis prezi

You have now unlocked unlimited access to 20M+ documents!

Unlimited Reading

Learn faster and smarter from top experts

Unlimited Downloading

Download to take your learnings offline and on the go

Instant access to millions of ebooks, audiobooks, magazines, podcasts and more.

Read and listen offline with any device.

Free access to premium services like Tuneln, Mubi and more.

Help us keep SlideShare free

It appears that you have an ad-blocker running. By whitelisting SlideShare on your ad-blocker, you are supporting our community of content creators.

We've updated our privacy policy.

We’ve updated our privacy policy so that we are compliant with changing global privacy regulations and to provide you with insight into the limited ways in which we use your data.

You can read the details below. By accepting, you agree to the updated privacy policy.


  1. Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example Letter From Birmingham Jail

    letter from birmingham jail rhetorical analysis prezi

  2. Letter From Birmingham Jail Rhetorical Analysis Prezi

    letter from birmingham jail rhetorical analysis prezi

  3. Letter From Birmingham Jail Paragraph 14 Analysis

    letter from birmingham jail rhetorical analysis prezi

  4. Letter From Birmingham Jail Rhetorical Analysis Prezi

    letter from birmingham jail rhetorical analysis prezi

  5. Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example Letter From Birmingham Jail

    letter from birmingham jail rhetorical analysis prezi

  6. Letter From Birmingham Jail Rhetorical Analysis

    letter from birmingham jail rhetorical analysis prezi


  1. Rhetorical Analysis Workshop

  2. Rhetorical Analysis Post Details

  3. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Letter from a Birmingham Jail

  4. Elizabeth Bonker Valedictorian Speech

  5. Letter from Birmingham Jail

  6. How To Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay


  1. "A Letter from Birmingham Jail" Rhetorical Analysis

    A Letter from Birmingham Jail Presley Allen Background Martin Luther King was arrested for non-violent demonstrations against racism and segregation in the time of the Civil Rights Movement. In his letter, King wrote to eight white religious leaders of the South in attempts to justify his actions. "most thoroughly segregated city" Background

  2. Rhetorical Analysis: Letter From Birmingham Jail by Jess Gossen

    Rhetorical Analysis of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail" Thesis In the "Letter from Birmingham Jail" by Martin Luther King, he uses logos and pathos to argue nonviolent protest movement is wise and timely. Summary Analysis Slide #1 Analysis Slide #2 MLK Jr. says, "For years now I have heard the word 'Wait!'

  3. Letter to Birmingham Jail Rhetorical Analysis by Toni Moore

    Dr.King, Jr. is determined to reach his goal and has hope despite the negativity surrounding him. After all, he is writing from a jail cell. Dr.King's employment of the rhetorical strategies helped strengthen his case of why religious people should stand up against injustice.

  4. Letter from Birmingham Jail Summary & Analysis

    Letter from Birmingham Jail Summary & Analysis Next Themes Themes and Colors Key Summary Analysis Martin Luther King, Jr. directs his letter to the eight white clergymen who publicly condemned his actions in Birmingham, Alabama.

  5. Rhetorical Analysis of "The Letter of Birmingham Jail"

    The "letter of Birmingham Jail" was written by Martin Luther King on April 16, 1963. He wrote this letter from his jail cell after him and several of his associates were arrested as they nonviolently protested segregation in Birmingham, Alabama.

  6. The Rhetorical Situation of Letter from Birmingham Jail

    In Letter From Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King responds to the subjectivity of law and the issue he paramounts by using precise and impactful rhetoric from inside of his jail cell. While this fight had been raging for nearly 10 years, the release in 1963 was shortly followed by the Civil Rights Act in 1964.

  7. Rhetorical Analysis of The Letter from Birmingham Jail

    Throughout his Letter from Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King Jr. establishes himself as a legitimate authority in the eyes of his audience, shows the trials his people have gone through, justifies his cause, and argues the necessity of immediate action.

  8. Rhetorical Analysis Example: King's "Letter From a Birmingham Jail"

    "Letter From a Birmingham Jail," written by Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963, describes a protest against his arrest for non-violent resistance to racism. In the letter, King appeals for unity against racism in society, while he wants to fight for Human Rights, using ethos.

  9. ML King, Letter f t Birmingham Jail annotated

    Faculty. David Brenner. Literature of the Western World II (ENGL 2333) COURSE MATERIALS--Required Reading! MIDTERM--Rhetorical Analysis Essay. ML King, Letter f t Birmingham Jail annotated.

  10. Letter from Birmingham Jail: Rhetorical Analysis

    Letter from Birmingham Jail: Rhetorical Analysis. Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested in April of 1963 for participating in a march, which was a march fighting for the equal rights for African Americans. While confined in the Birmingham City Jail, King wrote a rebuttal letter directed towards to the clergymen of the city.

  11. Rhetorical Analysis Of Letter From Birmingham Jail

    Rhetorical Analysis Of Martin Luther King's Letter From Birmingham Jail. In "Letter From Birmingham Jail", he states, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere" (1). King is warning those in his audience that injustice has a way of spreading; therefore, it needs to be confronted and stopped where it occurs.

  12. "Letter from Birmingham Jail": Examples of Rhetorical Devices

    Match the definition in Column B with the word in Column A. Write the letter of the correct definition on the answer line. *Column A* recipient _____ *Column B* **a**. capable of holding a large quantity; spacious **b**. something that holds or contains **c**. to fascinate by charm, wit, intelligence, or beauty; enrapture **d**. a general idea or understanding derived from specific instances ...

  13. Rhetorical Analysis of The Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther

    Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963 addresses his letter referred to as the "Letter from Birmingham Jail" to the eight white clergy men who made it known to the public that his actions, which took place in Birmingham, Alabama were incriminating at that time in history.

  14. Rhetorical Analysis Of Letter From Birmingham Jail

    Rhetorical Analysis Of Letter From Birmingham Jail 502 Words | 3 Pages. Direct action was the best way to go about the segregation issues in America during the civil rights movement. Civil disobedience is the active, professed refusal to obey certain laws, demands, and commands of a government, or of an international power.

  15. Rhetorical Analysis Of Letter From Birmingham Jail

    In "A Letter From A Birmingham Jail" Martin Luther King Jr defends his use of nonviolent protest in order to accomplish racial equality. In the letter, Dr. King uses ethos, diction, and allusions when defending nonviolent protest which makes his argument really strong. His goal is to make the clergymen help him fight racial equality.

  16. Rhetorical Analysis Of Letter From Birmingham Jail

    Rhetorical Analysis Of A Letter From Birmingham Jail. A Letter from Birmingham Jail written by Martin Luther King Jr. was a defence strategy of nonviolent resistance to racism. The Birmingham campaign commenced on April 3rd of 1963, it was a march coordinated to protest against racism and racial segregation in Birmingham, Alabama.

  17. Rhetorical Analysis Of Letter From Birmingham Jail

    Rhetorical Analysis Of Letter From Birmingham Jail. Decent Essays. 581 Words; 3 Pages; Open Document. ... In the passage "Letter from Birmingham Jail" he uses Logos, Ethos, and Pathos to show his emotion and make it easy for the people to understand what he was trying to say. Pathos is the strongest part of an essay because it shows the ...

  18. Letter from birmingham jail 1

    Letter from birmingham jail 1 1. One of the best texts for identifying rhetorical principles, strategies, and terms! 2. "Public Statement by Eight Alabama clergymen" published in the Post Herald. The clergy make 4 specific accusations: •King is an outsider. •He should negotiate for change rather than demonstrate.