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Tracking the Tone in MLK's "A Letter From Birmingham Jail"

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by

Emma Hunter

on 4 May 2015

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Transcript of Tracking the Tone in MLK's "A Letter From Birmingham Jail"

Circumstance for Tone
The letter Martin Luther King Jr. wrote from Birmingham Jail was one written in the reply to 8 white clergymen. They recognized racial segregation as a problem, but they didn't want the battle to be fought in the streets. Because of this, they called MLK's actions in Birmingham "unwise and untimely". This influenced him in reply and has since became a very important written piece of the era.
Tracking the Tone in MLK's "A Letter From Birmingham Jail"
The Tone (2/6)
In paragraph 3, there is a
passionate
and
reflective
tone.
Martin Luther King writes mostly about the injustice he is resisting and relates it to biblical stories.
The Tone (3/6)
Paragraph 4 has a
self-assured
and
confident
one.
He also seems confident of his words and obviously lives by them in his actions.
The Tone (4/6)
The paragraphs 5 has a
direct
tone. He is rather direct with his audience and points to what they have missed in their statements.
The Tone (5/6)
Paragraphs 6-8 have both a
direct
and
passionate
tone.
For the span of the next three paragraphs, he takes an emotional stand point and urges the audience with the experiences African Americans face directly, and displays his passion for their struggle.
The Tone (6/6)
The final two paragraphs (9 and 10) have a
hopeful
tone.
Our speaker closes the letter with statements about his long message/long thoughts and a hope for the future being bright without racial prejudice.
The Tone (1/6)
The tone from paragraphs 1 and 2 can be best described as
reflective
and
calm
.
Martin Luther King accepts the statements the white clergymen have said and works in a calm manner to address them.
"...since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try and answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms." (P1)
"...the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct action...We readily consented...when the hour came we lived up to our promise. So I...am here because I was invited here." (P2)
By Emma Hunter and Zion McNeil, Period 1
"But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their "thus saith the Lord" far beyond the boundaries of their home towns..." (P3)
"...I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states...Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality...Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly." (P4)
"You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement...fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations." (P5)
"We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed." (P6)
"We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights." (P7)
"I wish you had commended the Negro sit inners and demonstrators of Birmingham for their sublime courage, their willingness to suffer and their amazing discipline in the midst of great provocation." (P7)
"...what else can one do when he is alone in a narrow jail cell, other than write long letters, think long thoughts and pray long prayers?" (P9)
"Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty." (P10)
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