Letter from a Birmingham Jail



Institutional Affiliation:

Letter from a Birmingham Jail

I decided to write about Dr. Martin Luther King’s ‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail.’ This letter was written by Dr. King from his cell in a Birmingham jail where he had been jailed for taking part in peaceful protests against racism. The reason as to why I chose to write on this particular piece of work is because I am a big believer in human rights and equality. Dr. King is a well known historical figure who fought for equality especially among African Americans at a time when racial segregation was the order of the day. Dr. King’s efforts and actions are an inspiration to many people throughout the world, and I am no exception.

The letter was written as a response to the concerns of some elitist white leaders of the church who deemed the peaceful protests to be against the law. The peaceful protests that had been organized by Dr. King and his fellow blacks were intended to shed light on the issue of segregation of black people in the United States at the time. Even though they had sought legal and peaceful means to have their concerns addressed, their plea had either been postponed or outright dismissed (King Jr, 7). It was, therefore, a matter of necessity that they identify other avenues through which to air their grievances. The local people of the city of Birmingham had called upon their compatriots from other regions, and Martin Luther King was among those who heeded their call.

Police brutality and the demeaning of black people by the whites were other issues that were raised by Dr. King. The letter was meant to shed more light on what the protests were about and how the people had come to the decision that to carry out a demonstration was the only means to make their voice heard. Dr. King also expressed his disappointment with the white members of the clergy. While a few of them had stood with the blacks in their quest for justice, most had chosen to remain silent which can be equated to them being complicit with the actions of the racists.

My overall impression of the work was that Dr. King made an eloquent and well thought out response to his accusers. The moral message that is passed across is that all people are created equal, and no one could exercise any form of dominance over another human being. The moral theme that emerges throughout the letter is the fight against injustice and oppression of the weak based merely on the color of their skin. The setting is a Birmingham jail which emphasizes the fact that the black people had been oppressed and put in prison for speaking out against discrimination. This is obvious use of pathos where the reader sympathizes with the author. Dr. King also uses a vivid description of scenes such as “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross-country drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored” (King Jr, 5)

The author accomplished his mission in getting the reader to see his point of view using the argumentative devices such as pathos. He also uses relevant examples to show just how much the black people have suffered as a result of legal segregation. Dr. King’s letter shows how appalled he was by the state of affairs and that he was willing to go to whatever lengths to make sure that the black people were treated in an equal, fair and just manner

Work Cited