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Letter From Birmingham Jail Strategy Analysis Project: Antit

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Anna Ayers

on 5 February 2014

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Transcript of Letter From Birmingham Jail Strategy Analysis Project: Antit

Letter From Birmingham Jail Strategy Analysis Project: Antithesis
Anna Ayers and Jamie Crow
Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his famed "Letter From Birmingham Jail" in response to a public statement made by eight clergymen from Alabama, who disagreed with King’s actions but identified with his goals of equality. King used many rhetorical strategies in his letter, including the frequent and effective use of antithesis. Antithesis is the juxtaposition of contrasting words or ideas, often in parallel structure, and if properly used, antithesis can be a very powerful tool when it comes to persuasion.
Introduction
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” (Paragraph 4)

Conflicting ideas: Injustice/justice, anywhere/everywhere

Antithesis in Letter From Birmingham Jail
“Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.” (Paragraph 4)

Conflicting ideas: one/all, directly/indirectly

Antithesis in Letter From Birmingham Jail
“Our hopes had been blasted and the shadow of a deep disappointment settled upon us.” (Paragraph 8)

Conflicting ideas: hope/disappointment


Antithesis in Letter From Birmingham Jail
“We must see the need of having nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men to rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood." (Paragraph 10)

Conflicting ideas: nonviolent gadflies/tension, dark depths/majestic heights, prejudice & racism/understanding & brotherhood


Antithesis in Letter From Birmingham Jail
“We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” (Paragraph 12)

Conflicting ideas: voluntarily/involuntarily, given/demanded, oppressor/oppressed


Antithesis in Letter From Birmingham Jail
“The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jet-like speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse-and-buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter.” (Paragraph 14)

Conflicting ideas: jet-like speed/horse-and-buggy pace, political independence/having a cup of coffee


Antithesis in Letter From Birmingham Jail
“It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the and the segregated a false sense of inferiority.” (Paragraph 16)

Conflicting ideas: Segregator/segregated, superiority/inferiority


Antithesis in Letter From Birmingham Jail
“…who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice…” (Paragraph 23)

Contrast: negative/positive peace + the absence of tension/presence of justice


Antithesis in Letter From Birmingham Jail
“I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action.” (Paragraph 23)

Contrast: Agree with goal/ disagree with direct action


Antithesis in Letter From Birmingham Jail
“Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Luke warm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.” (Paragraph 23)

Contrast: Shallow understanding/Absolute misunderstanding + good will/ill will + Lukewarm acceptance/outright rejection


Antithesis in Letter From Birmingham Jail
“If his repressed emotions do not come out in these nonviolent ways, they will come out in ominous expressions of violence. This is not a threat: it is a fact of history.” (Paragraph 30)

Contrast: Repressed emotions in nonviolent acts/ominous expressions of violence + expressions of violence/not a threat/fact of history

Antithesis in Letter From Birmingham Jail
“We will be extremists for hate, of will we be extremists for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice, or will we be extremists for the cause of justice?” (Paragraph 32)

Contrast: extremists for hate/love + preservation of injustice/cause of justice

Antithesis in Letter From Birmingham Jail
“They are still all too small in quantity, but they are big in quality.” (Paragraph 33)

Contrast: small in quantity/big in quality

Antithesis in Letter From Birmingham Jail
“In spite of my shattered dreams of the past, I came to Birmingham with the hope…” (Paragraph 36)

Contrast: shattered dreams/hope

Antithesis in Letter From Birmingham Jail
“Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s often vocal sanction of things as they are.” (Paragraph 41)

Contrast: disturbed by church's presence/consoled by the churches sanctions of things as they are

Antithesis in Letter From Birmingham Jail
“In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was the thermostat that transformed the more of society.” (Paragraph 40)

Contrast: thermometer of ideas and principles of popular opinion/thermostat that transformed the more of society

Antithesis in Letter From Birmingham Jail
“If I have said anything in this letter that is an understatement of the truth and is indicative of an unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me. If I have said anything in this letter that is an overstatement of the truth and is indicative of my having a patience that makes patient with anything less than brotherhood, I beg God to forgive me.”(Paragraph 49)

Contrast: Understatement/overstatement + unreasonable impatience/having a patience that makes patient with anything less than brotherhood + Your forgiveness/God's forgiveness

Antithesis in Letter From Birmingham Jail
"I have tried to make it clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or even more, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends.” (Paragraph 46)

Contrast: wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends/even more wrong to use moral means to preserve immoral ends

Antithesis in Letter From Birmingham Jail
By utilizing antithesis in his letter, King skillfully displays contrasting ideas to help support his argument. His diction, voice, and his passion for equality create a very powerful message in his Letter From Birmingham Jail.
Conclusion
Full transcript