Letter from Birmingham jail
Letter of the King from Birmingham Prison was a letter, not a speech. As the name suggests, this letter was written by the King when he was imprisoned in Birmingham, Alabama, following his arrest with Ralph Abernathy, Fred Shuttlesworth, and others for intentionally disobeying Judge Jenkins's injunction against the parades, demonstrations, boycott, and pickets. The letter was a response to the call for unity, a statement by eight local white clergies who condemned the nonviolent protests. The King has become a national icon in the history of American liberalism. Martin Luther King became the first dynamic black activist in the United States and the first protuberant black civil rights activist in the United States to contest discrimination, prejudice, and segregation. He also actively opposed the participation of the US Army in the Vietnam War. For his outstanding contribution to the democratization of American society in 1964.
According to Leff and Ebony, the traditional ways of using rhetoric tools to persuade includes the constituting the image of self in the social or cultural context. "The generative function of character becomes especially important in cases where suppressed groups attempt to find rhetorical means to alter their circumstances" ( Leff & Ebony 38). The same is used in King's letter because his text develops the nuance and complex character of King. With the help of this character construction, he was able to criticize without separating him from the audience and allow the black audience to develop a sense of agency.
Patton (2004) examines the rhetoric situation in MLK 's letter by arguing that the letter was the first-hand response to the civil rights movement not only in Birmingham city but on a larger scale. This letter is an excellent example of rhetoric transformation. The pathos worked as a rebuttal of the white clergy. And this letter changed the King's rhetorical identity and existence. "The "Letter" altered the impression of rationality from the area of restraint alone and combined it with explanations for direct civil disobedience. Therefore, the "Letter" as rhetorical reply unbolted a new public edge for realistic, value-based identification with civil rights for historical and contemporary audiences" (Patton56).
The difficulty in discussing the topic of racism lies in the fact that physical, civilizational, intellectual differences between races, which, according to the ideas of modern liberal society, should not exist. "Some may propose that racism in Birmingham was not a bound condition for King as King lived in Atlanta. But King saw the struggle for the civil rights of black Americans as one that was associated" ( Sails-Dunbar &Tremaine14).
Kings' arrest in Birmingham in April 1963 became famous thanks to the "Letter from Birmingham Prison." In Birmingham, where the police chief was known for his racism and bloodthirstiness, the police used water cannons and dogs against peaceful protesters and arrested the leaders of the movement. When King's issue of the Birmingham News newspaper fell into King's hands in prison, where an appeal was issued by white clergymen to stop using civil disobedience tactics, King was outraged that he began to sketch his answer right in the margins of the newspaper.
The Letter from Birmingham Prison was the first widely known Manifesto of the Negro movement for equality. Responding to reproaches that the appearance of "strangers" from Atlanta in Birmingham disturbs the peace, provokes violence, and is generally untimely, King formulates several provisions that form the basis of his ideology. He writes that "injustice in one place poses a threat to justice everywhere", that "human progress does not inevitably come with time, but requires tireless efforts and constant work", that "conquered good is stronger than triumphant evil", that "the church should be not just a thermometer that records public opinion, but a thermostat in which public morals are melted. "(Winkler4).
If King certainly found writing to be insufficient, his bias was perhaps adjusted by the African-American prejudice to oral discourse; from this viewpoint, the written word would perhaps seem to be a culturally advantaged mode of discourse, the influential tool of the elite educated classes relatively than a fringe form of expression”(Gaipa742). Self-doubt and the desire to assert oneself tormented him from his youth. Despite his exceptional gift as a speaker, he was given a troika at the school of oratory. When writing a dissertation, he first fundamentally chose a topic that had nothing to do with Negro issues, and then borrowed pieces from other people's works, fearing not to cope, and thereby confirm the low opinion of the intellectual abilities of blacks.
King has claimed not only to white Christian brothers, but also to a part of blacks: "I tried to resist between the two forces, saying that we should not go on the path of doing nothing to those whom everything suits, nor on the path of black hatred and despair nationalists. "If the idea of nonviolent resistance did not prevail in the Negro movement, King writes, "I am convinced that now many rivers of the South would flow rivers of blood." ( Gaipa293)
This constitutive perspective of character happens concurrently and in intimate linking with its use as an instrument of persuasion regarding detailed questions. Constructed on this case, we claim that rigid dissimilarities among instrumental and constitutive roles of rhetoric are deceptive and that rhetorical criticizer should respect the structure of self and the instrumental practices of character as a fluid connection (Leff and Ebony 43).
Furthermore, calling to treat whites as brothers and opposing black nationalism, King passionately preaches Pan-American nationalism, viewing the civil rights movement as a struggle for the "American dream and the most sacred values of our Judeo-Christian heritage", as a way to "return our people to those high the origins of democracy that were discovered by the founding fathers in the Constitution and in the Declaration of Independence. "(Johnson18)
Concludingly, Martin Luther King was perhaps the most prominent figure in the American civil rights battle. However, he was not alone. Alongside King, there were many other notable figures who were ready to face police arbitrariness and discriminatory court rulings. The dissatisfaction among African Americans was enormous. The powerful influence of the Americans, both in demonstrations and through civil disobedience, led to changes in the law that brought equal rights to every citizen in the United States. The Birmingham protests were held in many cities in the United States, which were renowned for being particularly racist and anti-civil. King was arrested for participating in protests, and while in prison, he wrote a civil rights manifesto known as the Letter from Birmingham Prison. The Manifesto is a fluent defense of civil disobedience. In the aftermath of the Birmingham protests, in August of the same year, Martin Luther King organized an event known as the Washington March for Work and Freedom with several civic activists and religious groups. This was a peaceful and political demonstration designed to create hope for African-Americans experiencing discrimination.
Gaipa, Mark. "A Creative Psalm of Brotherhood”: The (De) constructive Play in Martin Luther
King's “Letter from Birmingham Jail." Quarterly Journal of Speech 93.3 (2007): 279-307.
Leff, Michael C., and Ebony A. Utley. "Instrumental and Constitutive Rhetoric in Martin Luther
King Jr.'s" Letter from Birmingham Jail"." Rhetoric & Public Affairs 7.1 (2004): 37-51.
Johnson, Davi. "Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1963 Birmingham campaign as image event." Rhetoric
& Public Affairs 10.1 (2007): 1-25.
Patton, John H. "A Transforming Response: Martin Luther King Jr.'s" Letter from Birmingham
Jail"." Rhetoric & Public Affairs 7.1 (2004): 53-65.
Sails-Dunbar, Tremaine T. "A Case Study Analysis of the “Letter from Birmingham Jail”:
Conceptualizing the Conscience of King through the Lens of Paulo Freire." Pursuit-The Journal of Undergraduate Research at the University of Tennessee 8.1 (2017): 14.
Winkler, Carol. "CHALLENGING COMMUNITIES." Disturbing argument (2015): 4.
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