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Letter from Birmingham Jail

This essay investigates the literature available on Dr. King’s letter “Letter from Birmingham Jail”. It elucidates how this particular letter conveyed the emotions that Dr. King had intended for his audience. In addition, this essay establishes how the letter was tuned in such a way that it perfectly connected to the clergymen as well as the general population that was going to read his letter. According to literature, Dr. King was such a personality that would not persevere to do things that he does not like. As such, he preferred to use the power of persuasion to change situations in his favor. Although this may at times be misinterpreted for coercion, it perfectly worked for Dr. King in that his works finally saw the American people live in mutual respect as brothers and sisters (Lokos, 1968).

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This letter has always been described as the perfect written literature to use logos in the most realistic manner. Throughout the letter, Dr. King attempts to put up strong arguments for his case by providing concrete evidence to support each case. In addition, his arguments are presented in a logical manner that does not only appeal to the audience, but also convincingly touches their hearts. For instance, he begins by dispelling the notion that has been created by clergymen that it is morally wrong to participate in demonstrations. In his arguments, he emphasizes the fact that the Negro community has no other weapon to fight other than taking to the streets in mass. According to him, the state of life for the Negro is such deplorable that they must not continue to persevere. This essentially means that something has to be done, in God’s grace, to save the Negro community (Baldwin, 1992).

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The flamboyant politician cunningly uses empathy to win the hearts of his readers. According to him, the opponents of mass demonstrations had to contend with the fact that several leaders from the Negro community had sought a negotiated settlement with the city fathers over the manner in which the Negro were treated with no much success. In this particular argument, Dr. King gives a particular case where city father refused to engage with them in good faith. This was the September incident when they had finally secured an appointment with leaders of Birmingham where several promises were made to them. However, when they finally realized that the all issue was a farce, they had no option but to return to the streets (Lokos, 1968).

The letter perfectly creates a connection between the demonstrators and the clergymen by incorporating biblical teachings in its arguments. According to Dr. King, men were created to live in hope and belief that the next day would be a better day. That is basically why the bible required that Christians engaged in constant prayer so that this belief is perfectly reinstated. However, it was evident that this hope was being taken away by the continued biasness of the American society towards the Negro. As a result, it became necessary that they fought back so that their God given hope for a better day is not taken away. In his address to general readership of his letter, he sets the tone of his argument quite early so that his letter is not misunderstood. Ideally, that was why he made it clear from the beginning of the letter that his intention was to answer claims by the clergymen in the most respectful and reasonable terms (Baldwin, 1992).

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In conclusion, Dr. King’s letter perfectly uses emotive reasons of empathy to appeal to his readers as well as the clergymen who are his primary audience. In addition, he uses biblical arguments in his letter so as to create a connection with the clergymen. This way, he manages to portray himself as a man acting on reasons rather than emotions. 

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