Martin Luther Kings, ‘Letter from Birmingham City Jail” was a letter written in response to the Clergymen. Kings was incarcerated at the time he wrote the letter. In his letter King addresses the issues of racism, the hardship, and the constitutional rights of African Americans. King also discusses the horror of segregation and torture by white people. Kings’ main idea of this letter is he wants everyone to know that all should be treated equal. All should be treated with dignity and respect regardless of the color of your skin. King believes we are all God’s children and we should love thy neighbor.
Kings letter has many different audiences he wants to reach. It seems the white audience is the main focus. Kings wants them to realize the pain, suffering, and the feeling of inadequacy they are causing African Americans. He also is trying to reach the religious leaders in this text. King wants to know how can they teach and preach the gospel. Then allow such hatred and violent things to be done to Gods people (African Americans). It seems he may be addressing the feelings of betrayal and hypocrisy by the Clergymen. King is also focusing on his people (African Americans). He wants them to realize the importance of their fight for their rights. King wants them to be encouraged and know he will continue to fight even if it kills him. Lastly the world and every human being that exist. King needs all to know that being treated unequal because of your skin color is wrong.
In Martin Luther Kings, “Letter from Birmingham Jail” uses many argumentative strategies such as ethical, logical, and emotional appeal. King shows the cruelty of the laws of segregation. The suffering that African Americans face due to the unjust Americans laws imposed on them. Logical appeal is shown in this particular statement. “Any law that uplifts human personality is just”. “Any law that degrades human personality is unjust” (King 12). In these two statements, King is showing how the laws in America are unfair. He shows that if any law degrades ones personality is unjust. King wants white people to see if a law affects your soul and breaks your spirit this is wrong. He also wants whites to know that making African Americans feel less than them to uplift themselves is morally wrong. King also is addressing the Clergymen. How can they call themselves men of Christianity, when they are condoning immoral, corrupt laws? King uses these two sentences to highlight the wrongness of segregation. He and African Americans will not follow these unjust laws. As he stated “So I can urge men to disobey segregation ordinances because they are morally wrong” (King 12).
In Kings 340 year’s paragraph, he uses a lot of emotional appeal to convince his audience. For example King states, “I guess it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say wait” (10). King wants the Clergymen to know time waits for no one. Time is very critical in this situation. King feels they have endured enough agonizing pain from white people. Waiting for African Americans almost symbolizes a slow death, or surrendering, this something King refuses to do. He is perplexed with the idea of waiting. White people have never experienced the piercing pain of, being separated just because the color of skin. It seems King is saying how dare you have an opinion about something you know nothing about. He also uses a child’s point of view for both audiences, to see how racism affects an African American little boy. With this particular question “Daddy why do white people treat colored people so mean” (King 10). He wants parents in general to be able to feel the pain of a child, realizing they are being treated different because of their skin color. The fact that a child even has to ask such a question should fuel some type of emotion from anyone. King hopes by using this strategy as it relates to parent and child it might soften the hearts of white people.