Martin L King letter from Birmingham jail

Posted: February 10, 2016





Martin L King letter from Birmingham jail

The famous and renowned Letter from Birmingham Jail was drafted by Martin Luther King back in 1963. During this period, he had been jailed. The letter was drafted as retaliation to the public statement made by the Eight Clergymen in Alabama. The public statement critiqued the actions taken by King in April, 1963. It is known to all that King was a great and popular activist who was highly opposed to the desegregated systems employed in the South during the 1960s. Fortunately, King was able to acquire a lot in terms of segregation in the United States irrespective of the numerous challenges and heavy opposition. In his letter, he used pure logic and made sure to employ persuasive appeals. He employs author credibility, practical evidence and emotional appeal to persuade his audience. He uses the letter to show how the people are adversely affected by the segregation in Birmingham. To drive his point home, he makes sure to effectively utilize examples that are heart wrenching and comprehendible language (Rieder 20).

In the letter, he shows the audience that he is a reliable fellow. This is aided by various factors written in the letter. To start with, he writes the letter while in the confinement of a jail. The reason behind his arrest was a protest he led before in the city. While reading the letter, it becomes clear that King is well versed in the subject matter. He shows that he has experienced segregation first hand and he knows what it feels like to be discriminated against. He goes ahead to exhibit that he is a plausible character when he points out says, “I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference,” (Rieder 56). The conference had numerous affiliates in the Southern region of the country. He had t5he responsibility and mandate to lead and organize protests on behalf of the affiliates who required assistance as they struggled for human rights. He personally joined the protests and fought for equal rights for the black community. In addition, he also protested against the desegregated systems in the south. His activism actions confirmed how credible he is as an author. This showed that he was there, did all that and was well conversant with what was happening.

As stated earlier, King uses various emotional appeals and examples to get the attention of his audience and persuade them to see reason as he sees it. He effectively utilizes the core human responses which entail empathy, protection and sympathy. Such emotional appeals are meant to get the attention of both the blacks and the whites. He addresses how numerous negotiations have been held in Birmingham yet none of the bore any fruits. When there is a bit of hope coming from the negotiations held, that little hope is shattered again after the business signs are not brought down as promised.

King states that then was the most appropriate time to call for protests. He gives this illustration to appeal to the people’s sense of family, particularly the clergymen. He wished to get the people most especially the whites to think of how it would be for them if they witnessed their siblings undergo such a cruel treatment as that they subjected the black people to. He goes on to touch on the people’s protective instinct. He does so by giving an example of how he heard to make his little girl to understand that her father could not take her to the park basically because it is only restricted for the whites. He also has to make his son comprehend the harsh treatment extended to the blacks by their white counterparts (Rieder 62). With the given explanations, the children start expressing some kind of detest and hatred to the whites and this breaks his heart.

A Review of the Birmingham Letter by Martin Luther King

The second article is written by Mikhali Lyubansky. It is titled “A Reading of the Letter From Birmingham Jail: A Review”. The author is a Ph. D. holder and teachers in the Department of Psychology. He lectures at the University of Illinois. He teaches Psychology of Race and Ethnicity Theories of Psychotherapy. He also teaches restorative justice on a graduate level seminar. The knowledge he has regarding racial and ethnical discrimination makes him knowledgeable enough to review the Birmingham letter. He starts off by acknowledging that Martin Luther is the type of orator that is talented. It is true that King’s words were more of a spiritual experience to the people and not just mere tools of communication (Lyubansky).

He acknowledges that it was a letter and not a speech. He also adds that the letter was written during King’s incarceration period. According to Lyubansky, King was arrested alongside Fred Shuttlesworth, and Ralph Albernathy. They, amongst others, were detained for having disobeyed an order issued by Judge Jenkins who forbid picketing, parading, boycotting and demonstrating. True to the letter’s claim, it was drafted in response to the statement dubbed A call for Unity which was made by white clergymen who opposed non-violent protests. The author describes the letter as containing most of the famous words spoken by King. This is the primary reason why the letter still holds value till this day (Lyubansky).

The author states that the letter is now as readily accessible as the famous speech dubbed “I have a Dream”. This is why there has been a film made of the letter. It basically entails the letter being read to the viewers and listeners of the film. The author describes King as an honest and rather generous character as shown in the letter. He also states that the letter is a perfect illustration of King’s ability to portray unwavering commitment when it comes to matters relating to justice. Significantly, King never dehumanized the oppressing side or even those who encouraged segregation. He was fair to both parties. The author also states that he disagrees with King whereby he states that "Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber." The author argues that during King’s time, the restorative justice systems were inexistent. As such, the most appropriate thing to say in the contemporary society is that "society must protect the robbed and restore the robber" (Lyubansky).

Works Cited:

Rieder, Jonathan. Gospel of Freedom: Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Letter from Birmingham Jail     and the Struggle That Changed a Nation. , 2013. Print.

Lyubansky, Mikhali. "A Reading of the Letter From Birmingham Jail: A Review | Psychology Today." N.p., 2014. Web. <>.

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