12/22/14 Period 3
Like many African-Americans of his time, Martin Luther King experienced the inequality and segregation between the African-American society and the white society during the 1960's. The year 1963 was the hundredth anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, but equality for all Americans had yet to be established. The blacks were still discriminated against and inhumanely regarded by the whites. Dr. Martin Luther King's essay Why We Can't Wait illustrates the atrocious social circumstances and outlooks of many black Americans in the 1960's. He imparts his argument for an end to racial prejudice, which explains why the African-Americans "can't wait" with their effort for civil rights. In this passage, Dr. King employs stylistic, narrative, and persuasive strategies to portray the dismal conditions of the blacks in spite of the liberation they had accomplished a hundred years ago.
The purpose of the piece was to inform readers about the nonaggressive campaign against ethnic segregation in the United States, and precisely the 1963 Birmingham movement. The tone of the article is solemn and enlightening. The third paragraph of the essay states, “The Negro in Birmingham, like the Negro elsewhere in this nation, had been skillfully brainwashed to the point where he had accepted the white man’s theory that he, as a Negro, was inferior”. This quote is an example of King’s eloquent explanations of the unfortunate truth of living as a black citizen in America during that era in history.
The diction of the composition is powerful and persuasive. King uses elevated language characterized by complex vocabulary and figurative language, with the effect of inspiring his readers and listeners. Terms such as, ‘counteract’, ‘imprisonment’, and ‘salvation’ were uncommon in the common black person’s vernacular during that era and show King’s superior grasp of the English language. Also, the simile “dry as dust” and the metaphor “bell of man’s inhumanity” provide an emphatic quality to the essay. In regards to the juxtaposition of the piece, King often includes both facts and literary figures in each body paragraph, which advances his argument.
The composition is intrinsically persuasive; Dr. King utilized the rhetorical devices ethos, pathos, and logos. He establishes ethos by presenting himself as being an active participant in the Birmingham bus boycott campaign. He arouses the readers’ sympathies by describing the adversity he dealt with and had to overcome in order to see this movement through. He appeals to logos because he continuously gives logical facts and reasoning to support his claims. For example, as a reaction to his claim that the Washington Post had ‘editorially attacked’ the timing of the campaign, he responds with, “In fact, virtually all the coverage in the national press at first had been negative, picturing us as irresponsible…