There have been many people who have shaped the United States of America’s history, including Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Among them, Dr. King is most well-known for his “I have a Dream” speech. He was also a civil rights activist fighting for equality for all African Americans and freedom from oppression. African Americans were not afforded the same rights as white Americans in these United States. They weren’t allowed to vote and did not have equal opportunities in the workplace. African Americans were so oppressed they had to be forced to sit at the back of buses, were not allowed to eat at restaurants, and even had their own waiting area in doctor’s offices. This was in addition to the one where white Americans were allowed to enter. This same lack of equality for African Americans led Dr. King to advocate for equal rights for all Americans, regardless their race. Martin Luther King Jr.’s letter from Birmingham Jail during the Civil Rights Movement was discussed. It was argued whether Martin Luther King Jr. was right to take the actions that ultimately led him to be thrown in prison. In this letter Dr. King stated that “it is the responsibility of the people who have the power and ability to fight injustices such as segregation.” It was also debated whether Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” during the Civil Rights Movement was the right decision. I believe Martin Luther King’s use ode and pathos was a good method to show clergymen and others who felt the same as Martin Luther King about the injustice of racial inequalities. He used non-violent protests to address the unfair treatment of African Americans, and other minorities, in a more appropriate manner.
Martin Luther King made allusion to Paul by comparing him to himself. Dr. King explained to the clergymen that just as Apostle Paul traveled from Tarsus to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ’s salvation, so was he compelled to take the gospel of freedom to all parts of the world. Dr. King’s intention was not to just concentrate on the south of America but to spread his message throughout America so that all Americans who are being oppressed due to their skin color, heritage or any other reason could enjoy the same justice and benefits as every other white American. Martin Luther King also draws on examples from other parts the bible, such as the refusal of Shadrach and Meshach to follow the Nebuchadnezzar laws, because a higher moral code was at stake. This illustrates that it is sometimes necessary to speak up against injustice, even if there are serious consequences to your efforts to get justice. Martin Luther King used allusions from the bible to communicate to clergymen that a solution was required and that non-violent protests were the best way to get there. Dr. King believed that peaceful demonstrations would demonstrate that they weren’t in for any kind of war but were serious about their goal to raise awareness that all people should be treated equally. Although many people did not agree with Dr. King’s non-violent approach to the problem, they were willing to try it and accept any consequences.
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Martin Luther King used pathos throughout his letter to show that he was passionate about the Civil Rights Movement and that his peaceful protests were the right response to the injustices of segregation. It was the Clergymen from Birmingham who were the misguided ones. DR. Martin Luther King speaks out about the hopes and disappointments of African Americans prior to and during the Civil Rights Movement. This makes clergymen and other readers feel for the African Americans. They were able to understand why Dr. King insists that non-violent protests are necessary. Dr. King spoke about the “long wait” for their constitutional and God-given rights, which allows people from opposing views to see that it was a long time before they could finally get equal justice and rights for all of their persecutions.
Birmingham’s Clergy believed Martin Luther King’s non-violent protests were a bad idea. It was unwise and occurred at the wrong time. Everybody is entitled to their opinions on the matter. But if it wasn’t at that time, when would it have been? If Dr. King had waited until the “perfect” time to protest in Birmingham, he wouldn’t have done it. “Justice too long delayed means justice denied.” A small number of people may believe it was wrong time to protest peacefully, but that does not necessarily mean they are right or their opinions are the only valid ones. Martin Luther King was arrested on charges of parading without permits after he protested in Birmingham. There is nothing wrong with an ordinance that requires permits for parades. However, such an ordinance is unjust if it is used to maintain segregation or to deny citizens the First Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and demonstration. It was clear that, while it was possible to protest without proper paperwork, it was not reasonable to disagree about the reasons why peaceful protest and assembly should take place.
Dr. Martin Luther King’s “A Letter From a Birmingham Jail” showed Birmingham’s clergymen the injustices and the need for protests. Dr. King demonstrated this by using strong emotional appeals to reach out and support the cause of clergymen. To show the Birmingham clergy that civil rights are urgently needed, he also used biblical references. Dr. King understood that the perfect time was not coming, just as the bible encouraged people to respond to God’s call. He believed in his cause and pushed for it. We can reflect back on our lives and see that Dr. King’s decision to take action in Birmingham was the right one.