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MLK Speech Analysis

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Haley Callicott

on 14 February 2014

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Transcript of MLK Speech Analysis

Haley-Paragraph 30
In paragraphs 30 and 31 of “A Letter From A Birmingham Jail”, author Martin Luther King Jr. alludes to several prototypes of honorable activists to form a connection with his intended audience, redefining their pre-existing judgments about extremism and reinforcing the urgency of the situation.
In paragraphs 30 and 31 of “A Letter From A Birmingham Jail”, author Martin Luther King Jr. alludes to several prototypes of honorable activists to form a connection with his intended audience, redefining their pre-existing judgments about extremism and reinforcing the urgency of the situation.
Sam (Paragraph 32)
Dr. King discusses white people who have chosen the path of “extremism.” He does this both to thank those who have already taken action and to inspire others to do the same.
MLK Speech Paragraphs 30-36

Martin Luther King Jr
•Occupation: Civil Rights Leader
•Born: January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, GA
•Died: April 4, 1968 in Memphis, TN
•Best known for: His "I have a dream" speech

Directly, Dr. King is addressing 8 white clergymen who had written to King asking him to stop the Birmingham demonstrations. Indirectly, since the letter was published, his audience expanded to all of his critics and supporters.
In this part of his letter, Martin Luther King continues to express his disappointment towards the white church giving further details and examples of the clergymen's failures to reach his expectations.
-mid 1900's
-civil unrest
-post slavery, segregation and discrimination common
-Dr. King target Birmingham, Alabama with his peaceful demonstrations
-police attack violently and throw King in jail

-narrative nonfiction
-open letter
The subject of this letter is the reason he is in Birmingham jail: using civil disobedience to create a change in the social injustice of racial segregation.
Expectations Reality
(Hope) (Disappointment)
"...I felt we would be supported by the white church felt that the
white ministers, priests and rabbis of the south
would be among our strongest allies."
"In spite of
my shattered dreams
, I came to Birmingham with the
that the
white religious leadership
of this country would see the justice of our cause and, with deep moral concern, would serve as the channel through which our just grievances could reach the power structure. I
that each of you would understand."
"Instead some have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leader era..."
"But again I have been disappointed."
"...others have been more
and have remained silent behind the
anesthetizing security of stained-glass windows
"Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever."
"...he has been caught up by the
....the United States Negro is moving with a sense of great urgency toward the promised land of racial justice."
"The Negro has many
resentments and
frustrations, and he must release them."
"So let him march; let him make prayer pilgrimages to the city hall; let him go on freedom rides.."
"If his repressed emotions are not released in nonviolent ways, they will seek expression through violence; this is not a threat but a fact of history."
"Rather, I have tried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled into the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action."
Paragraphs 33 + 34
*Zeitgiest= Spirit or mood of the time
"But though I was initially disappointing to at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label"
In paragraphs 30-36 of Dr. Martin Luther King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail," King addresses the urgency and social unrest generated by the opponents of the Civil rights movement and encourages the leaders of the white church to take a greater part in their actions towards racial equality.
"And Abraham Lincoln: 'This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.' and Thomas Jefferson: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal'"
In paragraphs 33 and 34 King speaks about the white church and the
it continues to cause him.
" I have been so greatly
with the white church and its leadership."
" I must honestly
that I have been
with the church."
"I say this as a minister of the gospel, who loves the church; who was nurtured in its bosom."
"Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will be be extremists for the preservation of injustice or the extension of justice?"
"Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists"
"Perhaps I was too optimistic; perhaps I expected too much."

"I suppose I should have realized that few members of the oppressor race can understand the deep groans and passionate yearnings of the oppressed race..."
"social revolution"

"They are still too few in quantity, but they are big in quality"
"Ralph McGill, Lillian Smith, Harry Golden, James McBride Dabbs, Ann Braden and Sarah Patton Boyle"

"Nameless streets"
"They have languished in filthy, roach-infested jails, suffering the abuse and brutality of policemen who view them as "dirty nigger lovers."

"...the need for powerful "action" antidotes to combat the disease of segregation"
Point-Counter Point
Full transcript