11 March 2014
Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter to Birmingham Jail” vs. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms”
Throughout history, there have been several rebellious and brave humans that have risen to the occasion to support the rights of others. Two of these people included Martin Luther King Jr. and Franklin D. Roosevelt. These two historical figures are well known for their contribution in advocating the rights of others. In MLK’s “Letter to Birmingham Jail” and FDK’s “Four Freedoms” both historical figures discuss why everyone should have equal rights, both use allusions, and both used religion in order to back up their claims and persuade their readers.
In both of these speeches, both MLK and FDR discuss basic human rights everyone should have, which is the purpose of them writing their speeches. In “Letter to Birmingham Jail”, Martin Luther King Jr. clearly stated that the situation with African Americans was clearly unjust, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial ‘outside agitator’ idea” (Lines 37-41). This quote made it very evident of where MLK stood, he did not want to put up with any injustice. Heading towards the same direction, Franklin D. Roosevelt made it coherent that every human had four basic rights, “The first is freedom of speech . . . The second is freedom to warship god in his own way . . . The third is freedom from want . . . The fourth is freedom from fear” (Lines 3-13). Since FDK stated these four basic freedoms, he obviously thought that his current day society was very unjust. Not only did MLK and FDK use injustice to support their claim, but they also used allusions.
By definition, an allusion is a reference to another situation in time in a piece of writing. Martin Luther King Jr. and Franklin D. Roosevelt did a thorough job of using this in order to make their speeches more persuasive. In MLK’s text, he made several allusions to philosophers to grab the clergymen’s attention in order to have them connect with the text, “Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes and ‘I-it’ relationship for an ‘I-thou’ relationship ends u relegating persons to the status of things” (Lines 5-8). King, using this allusion, appealed to his fellow clergymen. Similarly, Roosevelt used allusions in order to grab the reader’s attention, “In a perpetual, peaceful revolution, a revolution which goes on steadily, quietly, adjusting itself to changing conditions without the concentration camp or the quicklime in the ditch” (Lines 33-38). Since FDK made an allusion to the holocaust, it instantaneously had the reader’s eye on the text since it was such a tragic historical event. Not only did these authors utilize allusions to grab the reader’s