Book Analysis: Letter from Birmingham Jail

Pages: 3 (965 words) Published: December 17, 2013
Martin Luther King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail", was written by King in response to a critical "Call For Unity" by a group of clergymen in Birmingham. The clergymen were critical of King for "interloping" in the affairs of their town. King's response was that he had every right to fight injustice in the country that he lived in. The letter King wrote, while in response to the "Call for Unity", and was also a sort of declaration that he would fight racial inequality wherever it was. The "Letter from Birmingham Jail" was, to put this in literary terms, the thesis statement of his life. In this letter, he meticulously illustrated his reasoning, using all of the appeals to logic, emotion, and ethics.

A logical appeal is an appeal that uses reason, facts and documented evidence to make an point. King makes a logical appeal later in the letter, in which he responds to being called an extremist. He responds to this by stating that many historical figures that today are considered heroes were thought to be extremists during their time. He cites people such as the apostle Paul, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and Jesus Christ (549). He uses reason to make a logical appeal to the reader; that if he is an extremist for campaigning for freedom, then all of these other people are extremist as well. Using second hand evidence and the testimony of others can also be used in making logical appeals. King gives us an example of this when he points out how the Birmingham police mistreated the protesters (552). While he doesn't give a source, the event was widely publicized. King uses the evidence to rebut the clergymen's accusations. Firsthand accounts of events can also be used to make a logical appeal. King uses a firsthand account to illustrate a point. He tells about how he expected the white religious leaders to come to his aid, but instead found reluctance and opposition (550). He makes his argument by giving a firsthand account of his experience. However, firsthand...
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