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Crucial Elements And Techniques In Letter From Birmingham Jail

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“A letter from Birmingham jail” is an argumentative response written by Martin Luther King Jr. to eight white religious leaders of the south in 1962. This was the time when segregation against negroes was at its peak. King was the president of Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He was arrested and sent to jail for engaging in a non-violent campaign against segregation in Birmingham. Despite of being praised for having such good deeds, his actions were criticized and considered ‘unwise and untimely’. Instead of being angry towards his opposers, he was very polite towards them in the whole letter. He considered his opposers as ‘brothers’ and ‘men of genuine good will’ instead of enemies.

In this response, he added all the details of the plan in order to justify his position and tell the opposers reasons behind all his actions. King wrote this letter very smoothly. He criticized each remark of his opposers in a very detailed manner, explaining the reasons and intentions behind every action. To each blame, he gave instances from the past and compared them to his situation. Several times in this letter, he had used method of pathos to prove his point, making readers more engaged in his words, which ultimately led them to be more concerned about the issue. Moreover, he mentioned many notable personalities in order to set a basis for the aim of his writing. For instance, he compared himself to Apostle Paul, who set out on a journey to convey the message of Christianity all over Greece and Roman. He also specified various other prominent personalities like St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine, John Bunyan, Martin Luther, and even Jesus Christ in his letter. He gave many hypothetical emotional situations which helped to persuade readers to stick to his side and develop a sense of sympathy in their minds for black people. He gave examples of poverty and ill treatment of negroes. He used a lot of metaphors to support his argument. For instance, he quoted an ‘old black woman’ who states that her feet are tired, but her soul is at rest. He mentioned that though the elderly woman is uneducated, she knows her cause of suffering is because of the inequity and discrimination in society. He gave the example of Hitler and Hungarian fighters to bring the concept of just and unjust laws. He gained much trust of his readers by proving that he would always be there against any injustice in the society, even if it requires him to break the ‘unjust’ laws. He had an awesome credibility in his words to make the readers believe his point.

At the end of this letter, he claimed that the letter could be much shorter if he would have written it sitting on a comfortable desk rather than sitting alone for days in monotony of a narrow jail cell where he had nothing to do. This gives the readers a glimpse of how bad his situation was, making them feel concerned about him and helped in forming an unbreakable trust in their minds for him. From his whole argument, I felt that King is a man of very gentle and selfless nature. He was ready to give up everything to fight against injustice. For the sake of black community, he went to jail and tolerated the ill treatment and brutality of police officers. He had a great hand in providing freedom and equality to the whole black community. He justified his position by completing all the aspects and blames his opposers had for him. He had a very good hold on this letter. From the starting to ending, his tone changes from polite to emotional and then a little angry.

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Through his argument, he built up blind trust in the hearts of readers. He covered everything in it from the conditions of black people, challenges he faced while fighting for equality, what could be the outcomes if there will not be any action taken on the issue to his condition on the day of writing the letter. All the religions believe that discrimination is an insult to god. But still, some people think that treating other people as inferior is their tradition and by considering themselves as a superior group, they could have a higher position in the society. Even though, government has made many rules against discrimination and now discrimination is totally illegal, but deep inside we all know that this social evil still exists in the society. We still see examples of discrimination in our daily lives not only on basis of color, but also due to religion, caste, race, and even languages. America is not the only country in the world facing this problem.

In some Asian countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan, the condition is even more horrible. These countries face discrimination not only because of religion or caste, but also on basis of gender. Women are oppressed in these countries and female gender is still considered inferior as compared to males. Women are not given equal opportunities. Most of the families don’t allow girls to go to school and pursue a career. Rate of illiteracy of women is very high in these countries. Discrimination on basis of caste and religion in these countries even worse. Most of these countries even got divided on basis of religion. Even though all these nations promote secularism, but this social evil is still struck in the society and it is not going to leave until all the citizens want it to do so. It is against the laws of humanity to discriminate a person on any basis. At last, Discrimination is the major problem faced by most countries of the world. It will not leave the society until we want it to.

This problem can only be solved if we all come forward and unite to fight against it. Kofi Annan once said, “We may belong to different religions, different languages, different colored skin, but we all belong to one human race”. We all need to understand that there is only one caste – the caste of humanity, only one religion – the religion of love and only one language – the language of heart.

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Crucial Elements And Techniques In Letter From Birmingham Jail. (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved November 27, 2022, from
“Crucial Elements And Techniques In Letter From Birmingham Jail.” Edubirdie, 17 Feb. 2022,
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