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English Presentation

Letter from Birmingham: Martin Luther King's Appeals

Sasha McCarthy

on 9 October 2012

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Transcript of English Presentation

Letter from
Birmingham Jail Pathos, Ethos, Logos:
Martin Luther King's Appeals Pathos Ethos Logos Questions? “But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim … when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of nobodiness, then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.”
Page 264/5 - paragraph 14, lines 5-28 “You had seen [the police forces’] dogs sinking their teeth into unarmed, nonviolent Negroes... if you were to watch them push and curse old Negro women and young Negro girls; if you were to see them slap and kick old Negro men and young boys...”
Page 272 – paragraph 45 “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.” “I have tried to stand between these two forces, saying that we need emulate neither the “do-nothingism” of the complacent nor the hatred and despair of the black Nationalist.”
Page 268 - paragraph 29 “I am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson and the great-grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.”
Page 271 - paragraph 39 “To use the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority.”
Page 265 - paragraph 16 “… we decided to undertake a process of self-purification. We began a series of workshops on nonviolence, and we repeatedly asked ourselves: ‘Are you able to accept blows without retaliating?’ ‘Are you able to endure the ordeal of jail?’”
Page 263 - paragraph 8 “Certain promises were made… to remove the stores’ humiliating racial signs… we were the victims of a broken promise.”
Page 263 – paragraph 7 “We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom.”
Page 272 - Paragraph 44 Sasha McCarthy, Matt Walker, Adarsh Nair
Nick Cianci, and Ian Hewitt The use of the viciousness demonstrated by the dogs creates the feeling of horror towards the attack and pity towards the attacked. The vulnerability is used to create a feeling of horror at the injustices demonstrated by the white population. The readers will realize the drastic difference and inequalities in regards to the law by imagining these injustices occurring to themselves. King uses these examples of Pathos to bring attention to the inequalities and make his points a national, perhaps even international, issue to address. He does this to ultimately work towards ending segregation. He elicits guilt from the readers by claiming that the attacked are “unarmed” and “nonviolent.” He creates the image of vulnerability by using the elderly and children as his examples of mistreatment. King uses the facts surrounding agreed negotiation points with merchants to defend his right to protest in Birmingham. King tried to negotiate with shop-owners and others in the economic community. They promised him that they would cease all humiliation towards the Negroes, and in return, the protests were promised to stop. The signs were not removed. He makes the readers realize that by logical reasoning, King was correct in his actions following the break in agreement King forces the readers to see that by the whites' actions of refusing to conform to their part of the negotiated agreement, the white moderate’s disregard towards cooperation provided the reason for King’s right to continue protesting. This is ethos because King is saying what the protestors did before beginning to protest – they responsibly prepared themselves (self-purification). The questions the protestors ask themselves forces the audience to respect the protestors for the their seriousness and commitment to protesting the segregation laws through non-violent action. It establishes the protestors as a people who are acting logically as opposed to radically (irrationally and emotionally) which is effective because people have a more positive reaction to rational thinkers for considering a wider range of aspects and not raising their voice without a reason. This defends the protestors’ right to protest because logical thinkers would only raise their voice against the law if there was reason to do so. The credibility of the protestors created as being well educated individuals defends their reasoning behind action. King uses logos through cause and effect to explain why Americans should be supporting the Civil Rights Movement. Cause: the goal of America is freedom.
Effect: the Civil Rights Movement is to gain freedom for African Americans.

If one supports America, they must also support the Civil Rights Movement. To oppose the Civil Rights Movement is to oppose the ideals of America. It is effective in accomplishing King’s goal because it makes the Civil Rights Movement synonymous with American nationalism. His purpose is to rally people to the Civil Rights Movement because logically, Americans would support a nationalistic movement because Americans support America. He uses logic in the form of a syllogism to prove that segregation is unjust. King presents the properties of an unjust law and then states how, since the segregation laws fill the criteria of an unjust law, they must be unjust. Because no one would want to be governed by unjust laws, simply proving that the law is unjust should be enough to elicit some form of change. There is an implied assumption of, “no one wants to be governed by unjust laws” therefore the laws should be changed. King is instituting that the Church is no longer what it used to be because it has been “Scarred and Blemished” due to the changes in the acceptance of people that have happened in the Church over the years. By changes he means that there has been Segregation towards the black people (Social Neglect); the black people have been stripped of their permission to enter the church. He proves his point by establishing his credibility as he says that he knows the changes that have happened to the church over the past years because he has a family lineage of preachers. King establishes the fact that he has a very rich family heritage of Preachers who have been caring about the Church for Ages and therefore he cares about the Church and its Position at the moment. He is also sincere and dependable about his views about the Church since he has the preacher’s blood in him since his ancestors were all preachers. By proving that he is credible, he also proves that the Segregation has been ruining the church and therefore it is not the old sacred church anymore. The purpose is to eliminate unjust laws and Segregation. He accomplishes this task by portraying the church as an example. He displays how the church is not the Sacred as it is being ruined due to the Segregation. The Segregation is due to the unjust law the Whites have implemented on the blacks (Stripping their rights to enter the church). Therefore, it proves that there is a need to end segregation and unjust laws. This establishes King’s credibility as he is displaying the characteristics that a good leader should possess; He is representing the rational, yet responsible and determined group of blacks. It displays his credibility in affirming the fact that he is capable of being a leader and also his ability to recognize his opposition’s point of view unlike the other black extremists. He has established himself as a credible Individual and proven that he is not basing his argument of off a biased opinion but a fair and reasonable need. This would help him gain support as people would accept and be willing to embrace his Ideas and views; which would indeed help him rally people to the Civil Rights Movement as he has established himself as a credible Individual and proven that he is not basing his argument off a biased opinion but a fair and reasonable need. King is standing as a bridge between the two extreme ends of African Americans. The reader understands that King has no intention in using violent measures to accomplish his task, but is a gentleman who is trying to act as a mediator and resolve their problems in a calm and peaceful fashion. King utilizes the rhetorical technique of pathos here by using key phrases such as “dark clouds of racial prejudice” and “deep fog of misunderstanding” to conjure an emotional reaction from his audience (in this case the clergymen and the people he’s rallying to support the civil rights movement). The stark contrast between the two settings is intended to bring forth a negative reaction towards racism from the reader. He wants to make it clear that racism is not something one wants to be a part of, just as one wouldn’t want to be out on cloudy, fog engulfed day. King creates a vivid image in the reader’s mind of injustice by using specific examples of abused or even murdered innocents such as one’s own brothers and sisters and trying to explain to small children the injustices that are happening to them. The purpose is the changing of unjust laws directly by proving certain laws are unjust and implying why they should be changed. The feeling of guilt his points bring is immense forcing the audience (in this case, those with the power to change the laws governing relations between blacks and whites) to understand that the laws and causing segregation are unjust, and therefore why they should be changed – because no one wants to be governed by an unjust law. Page 274 - paragraph 50 The purpose of King’s rhetorically sound sentence is to persuade people to side with the civil right’s cause. He accomplishes this by rejecting the principles of racism through his degrading words, instigating his audience to feel miserable about discrimination, and ultimately directs them to the endorsement of love and brotherhood. “I have traveled the length and breadth of Alabama, Mississippi and all the other southern states. On sweltering summer days and crisp autumn mornings I have looked at the South's beautiful churches with their lofty spires pointing heavenward. I have beheld the impressive outlines of her massive religious education buildings. Over and over I have found myself asking: 'What kind of people worship here? Who is their God? Where were their voices when the lips of Governor Barnett dripped with words of interposition and nullification? Where were they when Governor Wallace gave a clarion call for defiance and hatred? Where were their voices of support when bruised and weary Negro men and women decided to rise from the dark dungeons of complacency to the bright hills of creative protest?'”
Page 271 - Paragraph 38 King condemns his audience (in this case the American citizens) for failing to stand up for civil rights when they had the opportunity and consequently creates a sense of guilt within them. He uses strategic words such as “bruised and weary Negro men” and “dark dungeons of complacency” along with an assortment of rhetorical questions to trigger this sense of sorrow through the connotation of these words. The purpose of this method is to leave the reader in a state of remorse, ultimately prompting them to join the civil rights cause out of culpability. “I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty-five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights.”
Page 262 - Paragraph 2 This is ethos because King is stating the position that he holds in a professional organization. He uses Christian movements to appeal specifically to the clergymen. This is effective because of the the connotation of the word "president" for having the implication of being a mature and responsible leader. Therefore, he is a trustworthy, reliable person, He also uses Christian movements to show the clergymen that he is as religiously reliable as they are. By showing himself in a place of power relating to the Christian Church, the clergymen will trust him as he talks about issues pertaining to the Civil Rights movement. He does this to defend himself against the accusations thrust upon him.
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