Letter from a Birmingham Jail By Dr. Martin Luther King: Critical Analysis

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Dr.Martin Luther King JR. in his “ Letter from a Birmingham Jail [ King, Jr.]”, (16 April 1963), argues that it shouldn’t be illegal to resist racism in a nonviolent way, he wants racism to stop and wants everyone to be equal. He supports his claim by first whatever affects one directly, effects indirectly,(3) then freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor, it must be demanded by the oppressed(4) and finally an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law.(7) Dr. King’s purpose is to defend any nonviolent resistance to racism and stop all violence and racism, Dr. King had to face tough battles to have everyone have same legal rights he did a speech to make everyone realize that skintone does not define who you are. Dr. King uses ethos to establish his credibility on the subject of racism and discrimination. He establishes a firm tone for The Birmingham newspaper.

“Unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law.”

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King’s letter also appeals to the emotions. He uses pathos to appeal to his audience and at the same time influence them. Dr. King wants his readers to imagine the pain and humiliation of the ill treatment that all African American people went through on the daily. Dr.King writes about policeman killing mothers, fathers, grandparents,etc families are being treated unfairly because of their skintone the notion that African Americans feel insignificant within their communities, However, King believes that soon, injustice will be exposed but all human beings who were being treated unjustly. I found this very effective why? Well because Dr. King uses a very positive tone towards his audience to let them know that color does not make you any less.

Dr. King was in jail for a couple of days his word left a great impact on the history of violence to all those in the community giving everyone else that motivation they needed to understand from right to wrong. King states that “whatever affects one directly, effects indirectly.” (3).Dr. King wrote his letter as a response to criticism of his church peers. His letter was a way to address all the injustice happening around him. Dr.King is using appeal to pathos and ethos his sending out a message to his audience. More than anything Dr. King just wanted equality, not for him but for his children and all those young kids growing up in this dark era.I found this every effective because Dr. King was not being stopped even if he was in jail he was still pushing all these people to fight for there freedom and peace he wanted to see everyone happy and get along.

His letter was a way of capturing the reader’s attention and wanted all those people who were being mistreated to fight alongside with him in his cause. He states freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor, it must be demanded by the oppressed(3). Dr. King is using appeal to pathos his every emotional with his words towards how he is expressing himself with his audience. The is very effective because his sending out a message towards his audience and he wants to make a better future for all the community being discriminated. The fact that Dr. King said he would fight whatever necessary for justice is heartwarming. Dr. King really shows that he believes in what he is fighting for and he would do whatever it is in his hands to help his community. By helping the people from Birmingham he helps people from everywhere because he believed that “ injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Children were being ripped apart from there families , they weren’t able to socialize with certain people, they were being treated poorly and so unfair they couldn’t even go to a local amusement park it was a very hard to to be a colored person were all the whites discriminated you, there was only one hope, Martin Luther King Jr. believed that one day all Whites and African American would be able to get along peacefully and they would have the same equal rights the Whites had.

In Conclusion, Dr. King tried to do what he believed was best and anything in his will to finally join forces and not be talked down on by any whites. Martin Luther King Jr, an civil rights activist, fought for the rights of African Americans in 1963. King organized various non-violent demonstrations in Birmingham, Alabama that resulted to his arrest. Dr. King wrote a persuasive letter justifying his actions and presence in Birmingham. Dr. King addresses their feelings on the issues that are surrounding Birmingham, helping them to come to the realization that this was in fact what they were thinking and saying, and that they need to act on it for anything to change. The letter is a historical and emotional letter that spoke to the hearts of people all across America. What Dr. King means when he says that we cannot conceive of ourselves as separate from all other people in the world because we are all human. Dr. King makes us understand we are all connected as on in this world. The same thing can apply to human society. If we allow injustice to happen to some people or some places we endanger everyone. We allow people to think that it is okay to act unjustly towards some people. This attitude can spread until eventually people might act unjustly towards some people and places this comes to endanger our entire society, Dr. King is saying that we need to oppose injustice anywhere we see it, in part because it could end up harming us as well. The purpose of Dr.King’s letter is for everyone to come together no matter what color you are what race you are we are all humans and deserve to have the same rights same equal rights as anyone we all have the opportunity to have good jobs go to good schools enjoy without having to worry about others will say about our skintone we are all human we are all a community.


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