Civil Disobedience

Paper Rating: Word Count: 1317 Approx Pages: 5

What rhetorical strategies were applied by Martin Luther King Jr. in "Letter from Birmingham Jail  and which of those was likely most important in influencing the readers of that time?

In Birmingham, Ala., in the spring of 1963, King's campaign to end segregation at lunch counters and in hiring practices drew nationwide attention when police turned dogs and fire hoses on the demonstrators. King was jailed along with large numbers of his supporters, including hundreds of schoolchildren. His supporters did not, however, include all the black clergy of Birmingham, and he was strongly opposed by some of the white clergy who had issued a statement urging the blacks not to support the demonstrations. From the Birmingham jail King wrote a letter of great eloquence in which he spelled out his philosophy of nonviolence. This essay, entitled "Letter From Birmingham Jail  demonstrates Kings exceptional literary prowess by his mastery of several rhetorical strategies to persuade.

King's rhetorical strategy to influence his audience in "Letter From Birmingham Jail  is that of a three-pronged approach. In an effort to aid in King's goal to alter societal structure, its evils, and its balance of power, he attempts to appeal to the logical, emotional and as well as spiritual side of his critics.

Kings first presents an appeal to our logic or reasoning. He does this by effectively showing a direct relationship between the reasoning for his position against segregation and it's resulting actions of passive resistance by those oppressed by it. Dr. King's appeal to our logic is most evident when he gives the reasoning for his statement "I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Klu Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted ... Continue Reading