Analysis of “Letter from Birmingham jail”

During the Civil War Movement, members of the clergy opposed Martin Luther’s protests, terming them to promote violence and hatred. According to these men of the clergy, a nonviolent demonstration was not the appropriate course of action to getting civil rights for the African-Americans in Birmingham. King Luther wrote the letter from a Birmingham jail to notify the religious ministers that his reasons for being in Birmingham were just and worthwhile. Martin deploys rhetorical devices to express himself adequately to earn support for the Civil War Movement from his audience.

The author uses parallelism to emphasize the many times black people were mistreated. 

“But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim. …when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking (King 2).” The repeated use of the phrase ‘when you’ depict how white people were mean to people of color. Here the Luther was able to get into the mind of his audience. There is also the use of metaphors in the letter. “…twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society (King 2).” King Luther uses this metaphor to paint his audience an image of the tyranny they are subjected to. The audience is forced to see privileges the whites have at their disposal, whereas African Americans cannot have a share of it.

           Martin Luther was able to show people the injustice people from the black community had to tolerate. He uses rhetorical devices to truly grasp the audience and convince them why nonviolent demonstrations were essential to the Civil War Movement.

Works Cited

King, Martin L. “Letter from the Birmingham City Jail.” Aug. 1963, p. 6. Accessed 5 Oct. 2019.

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