Letter From Birmingham Rhetorical Analysis

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Iris Hernandez
Mrs. Chukwu
English 1302
November 14, 2014
Letter from Birmingham Rhetorical Analysis

Dr. Martin Luther King was a civil rights activist who led many non-violent protests. In 1963, he was arrested for a protest he led in Birmingham, Alabama. A southern religious group urged King and other African- Americans to end their demonstrations. In response, King wrote Letter in Birmingham to convey his reasoning for the non-violent protest to help achieve equality and end unjust laws. King uses metaphors, anaphora, logos, ethos, and pathos to persuade his audience of his reasoning and justification for his actions. In the beginning of his letter, King was able to set his authority for referencing the bible not as someone who is referencing to appeal simply to the clergymen but as a minister himself who lives by the word. King writes “I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eight five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights.” By mentioning his position he is able to establish himself as a knowledgeable person who is a religious leader in his community. Throughout his letter King uses allusion to connect with his audience and primarily the religious clergymen. King writes “Was Jesus not an extremist for love…Was not Amos an extremist for justice…Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel…” King refers to biblical characters to create a common ground for the need of his actions. He is wise in knowing that this will appeal to the clergymen and the many Americans who pray to these biblical characters and have read their books in the bible. King is able to validate his reasoning for his actions because he is able to reference that he is simply following what those in the bible stand for. King also uses anaphora to drive in repeatedly the different characters that stood for the same principles he stands for. Through both allusion and anaphora King is able bring the logic behind his actions. To further drive in his point his uses allusion and anaphora when he wrote right after “And John Bunyan: “I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience.” And Abraham Lincoln: “This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.” And Thomas Jefferson “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” King not only used biblical figures but he also used these historical figures to bring logical justification for the non-violent marches he held. He logically justified his actions. King also uses many vivid metaphors to present an image in the audience mind which also appeals to their emotions. He writes “…this stinging dart of segregation.” In this metaphor King associates segregation with