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Analysis of King's Letter

Analysis of King's Letter - Sommariva 1 Nicholas Sommariva...

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Sommariva 1 Nicholas Sommariva Maureen McCarthy ENG 001_002 13 September 2011 Jail Cell Tapestry Almost half a century ago, a man wrote one of the most powerful letters in our history from a jail cell. Trapped and held captive because of his skin color, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. encompassed the voice of the black people, and through pen and paper shouted his argument to the segregated society of the 1960s. The previous decade had brought much hope to black people. The African-American community was beginning to fight back and take off their rusted shackles of abuse and humiliation. Fueled by the Brown vs. Board of Education decision and Rosa Parks’ resistance, the black people of America began boycotting and holding sit ins. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. emerged as a leader and became the messiah for equality and the end to segregation. “A Letter from Birmingham Jail” became one of the pinnacle points in Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s career as beacon of hope to the black community. He wrote the letter in response to the attacks on him and his followers for acting too soon and becoming too violent. In response, King writes to the clergymen of Birmingham asking them to see the world through his eyes and to realize the position America was in. The letter was so influential that it became an essential part in the history that led to African-American equality and freedom. King argued that it was time for both black and white communities to live cohesively and peacefully together in order to advance society and the country that both communities shared. King’s argument is perfect in arguing it was time for equality to be
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2 the standard in America – from his masterful reasoning with his audience, his logic about just and unjust laws, to the use of major historical characters in backing up his claims, and his beautiful word choice and structure – he and his argument led his people from out of the segregated underground to becoming normal and respected members of American society. King’s argument is in tune with religion and the Christian church. His readers, the clergymen of Birmingham, resonate with the religious rhetoric of their institution and therefore King cleverly weaves Christian principles into his argument. By doing so, his letter becomes all the more effective. King hints at the history of religion by comparing
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