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Rhetorical Analysis "Letter from Birmingham Jail"

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Submitted By dponder859
Words 1507
Pages 7
Devin Ponder
Eng291-001
13 September 2013
Rhetorical Analysis
Rhetorical Analysis of “Letter from Birmingham Jail” “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” by Martin Luther King, Jr., is a letter in which King is writing to his “fellow clergymen” in a response to their recent criticism of the actions he was leading in Birmingham at the time. The letter was written in April of 1963, a time when segregation was essentially at a peak in the south. Birmingham, in particular, is described by King as “probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States” (King 7). King goes on to inform the clergymen of the reality of the situation where he is and how waiting isn’t an option anymore. In the letter, King uses a variety of rhetorical strategies to accomplish the task of appealing to the readers from a logical standpoint. King first establishes his credibility to answer the clergymen by naming his personal title and comparing himself to such a higher historical authority as the apostle Paul. King uses repetition of his personal experiences in Birmingham to describe the situation from an emotional standpoint. By stating his credibility and giving his personal experiences, King gives the readers no choice but to listen to what his reasoning is behind his actions taken in Birmingham. He does so by describing how he has dealt with the situation in Birmingham appropriately using the four basic steps of any nonviolent campaign, and defining what those are. By coordinating the rhetorical strategies of quoting authorities, personal experience, and the use of definition, Martin Luther King Jr. accomplishes the task of informing his “fellow clergymen” of the situation in Birmingham, how he has dealt with it appropriately using the four basic steps of any nonviolent campaign and why his reasoning behind taking action is justified. After opening up the letter addressing the

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