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Tone And Techniques In Letter From A Birmingham Jail

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“The Letter from Birmingham Jail” also known as “Letter from Birmingham Jail city” was written by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr on April 16, 1963. The letter was addressed to his fellow clergymen. King wrote this letter while he was in Birmingham, Alabama to address criticisms regarding the non-violent protests in Birmingham. The eight clergymen were King’s intended audience. However, his constant reference to “we” signifying that the black community was his wider audience.

The letter employs an assertive but respectful tone to make arguments and counterarguments. First, King asserts that injustice anywhere is justice everywhere. For that reason, the call to non-violent action was justified. Secondly, on the clergymen’s concern of breaking laws, King argues that individuals are morally justified to break unjust laws since they are not laws. Lastly, the clergymen condemn the protest claiming they fuel violence. However, King maintains that society has an obligation of defending the robbed and punishing the robber. In the end, he asks the clergymen to forgive him if the contents of the letter are disrespectful.

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King wrote the letter purposely to defend the non-violent campaigns of civil rights. In his letter, King states that he rarely had time to address criticisms. If he took the time to address such criticisms then he would have little time left to engage in constructive work. However, he chooses to answer the clergymen’s concerns because he felt that they were genuine men. By doing so, he defends the strategy and its timeliness having been commissioned to do so.

Nevertheless, King’s letter is arguably the best example of the power of persuasion using emotional appeal. Firstly, King implores to the emotions of the clergymen to abolish segregation policies by calling to their attention the prevalence of injustice in Birmingham. Secondly, King argues that freedom must be demanded because it is never given freely by oppressors. Thirdly, there is an urgency to abolish segregation laws because African Americans have waited for more than 340 years for their God-given and constitutional rights. Lastly, he appeals to them as a father whose heart breaks when he has to tell his little girl that amusement parks are for whites only.


In conclusion, the Letter from Birmingham Jail is an effective persuasion speech that uses a blend of an assertive tone and emotional technique to convince the clergymen to abolish segregation laws. People need not wait for the court’s intervention to get justice. Instead, they have a moral obligation to resist unjust laws and take matters into their own hands. Besides the letter was effective because it had the urgency of abolishing segregation laws as the call to action. The people could no longer wait and had to take matters into their own hands because justice delayed was justice denied.

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Tone And Techniques In Letter From A Birmingham Jail. (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 2, 2023, from
“Tone And Techniques In Letter From A Birmingham Jail.” Edubirdie, 17 Feb. 2022,
Tone And Techniques In Letter From A Birmingham Jail. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 2 Dec. 2023].
Tone And Techniques In Letter From A Birmingham Jail [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Feb 17 [cited 2023 Dec 2]. Available from:
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