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Letter from a Birmingham Jail

Autor:   •  April 12, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,069 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,157 Views

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Letter from a Birmingham Jail

In his "Letter from Birmingham Jail," Martin Luther King Jr. creates an eloquent and personal response to a statement by some Alabama clergymen opposing his actions in Birmingham, Alabama. The essay's focus is largely an explanation of King's civil disobedience and the immorality of racial segregation. King uses many tools to convey a tone that is both powerful and convincing explaining his opinion in a way that shows his intelligence but most important his humanity by using specific examples and comparisons to further his objective point. His goal was to explain why segregation was wrong and to also show the inhumanity or emotionality and consequences of a separatist society. King's examples are realistic, easy for the reader to relate and effectively to shows how one's character is compromised by separatism. The language he uses creates clear boundaries between blacks and whites as the oppressed and the oppressor. King uses these examples and comparisons to demonstrate his humanity and relatability when blacks were thought of as anything but human.

King's use of comparison in "Letter from Birmingham Jail" makes the plight of desegregation almost a religious one. His background as a Christian minister is definitely interwoven in his language and since the letter was geared toward fellow clergy bible references such as his comparison to his "gospel of freedom" to the Apostle Paul and the gospel of eighth century prophets. Another example is when he compares his incarceration and arrest to Jesus. Jesus was arrested and crucified without having committed a sin and King, with his nonviolent method builds upon an idea the clergy should be very familiar with. This shows his humanity and is a successful and convincing argument because it unties the reader with concepts that are familiar and well understood by both parties. Above constitutional rights laws are the laws of God. This supersedes any other laws, and like other examples in the bible he was willing to stand up for what he thought was right. This is probably the most convincing because the Bible shows many examples of when people decided to do God's will over the laws of the land. Not only were people in the Bible willing to sacrifice their lives but in many cases people were punished by God who opposed them. King says "One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness ti accept the penalty." (128) This shows his will and determination that his cause was indeed a Just cause. A just law are laws that "square with the moral law or the law of God." (129) King refers to himself and African Americans as children of God. This unifies an idea in Christian and Jewish faith that God is the supreme father of us all that that therefore we are all God's children and should act accordingly. Through these comparisons


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