Letter from Birmingham Jail Analysis

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Martin Luther King Jr’s famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, has set a place in history long ago, in April of 1963. Many would say this is a lasting and important text for today’s American society. This could be because of the way it was written, or by the statements that were used in this text, to bring attention to MLK, while in jail for protesting segregation in Birmingham, Alabama. This all began once Martin had seen an open letter in a newspaper, addressed by 8 white clergymen, speaking about MLK and those who followed, and protested with him. Once MLK read this letter, he chose to respond with an extensive written letter, to help everyone understand more about the situation, and protests, leading up to his placement in the Birmingham jail.

A quote found in the “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, states: “Perhaps I was too optimistic; perhaps I expected too much.” Could be used to express Pathos, giving readers the sense of emotion from Martin Luther King’s words. In this quote, you can see MLK admitting his hopes and expectations from whites, and how he states they have failed him through allowing him to be put in jail, for simply fighting for what he, and others, believed in. MLK believed that if people had understood the knowledge of violation of segregation, they would also understand demand for making the end of segregation happen as soon as they could. When whites didn’t understand the situation, it only pushed MLK, and his views, to be heard and have changes made immediately, to settle and end the times of segregation as they had all believed would be happening.

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Another quote by MLK in “Letter from Birmingham Jail” says, “One day the south will know that when these disinherited children of God sat at lunch counters, they were in reality standing up for the best in the American dream…” This could be referred to as logos. A very popular, and very famous speech was given by martin Luther King Jr., in August of 1963, called “I Have a Dream” speech. Many felt these impactful words, as he stood in Washington, during the March on Washington. The quote stated above from “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, shows MLK felt that no matter whom you are, where you come from, where you grew up, etc, you could attain your dreams and greatest goals. No matter the circumstances, or obstacles that would be faced, a person would be able to do these things through determination and be able to live a long, successful lifetime. But, many could argue that some are limited to resources when it comes to surviving in this world. Some have vast possibilities, while others have significantly little. In today’s world, much of discrimination is sort of diminished, but overall, it’s still present in every day lives. As can be seen on social media, newspapers, articles, and much more. Too many individuals face unreasonable consequences, and life situations that hold them back from living the endless and satisfactory lives MLK believed they would. College, and education as a whole is extremely expensive, and those who can hardly afford it, spend the rest of their lives paying off student debt to reach their life aspirations, and goals.

In the last quote, found in “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, Martin Luther King Jr. stated, “But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before.” This can be seen as an ethos statement. This world deals with a great amount of religious situations, such as this statement. Some are for segregation, and some are not. During this trying, and new time of making everyone equal, MLK believed the Christian churches stance on welcoming segregation, is overall against God’s instructions as written in the bible, and spoken by him. Due to this argument, MLK believed people would begin to lose their ways with the church and religions, and would eventually become insignificant. MLK believed the judgment, which will be done so by God, would reflect on the churches decisions to not accept people of color, in this time. God lectures us to be good leaders, and followers of his word, but in disobeying what is written in his bible, will result in hypocrisy among the followers and believers.

Much can be learned through the words in “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” People can feel the pain, and emotion coming from Martin Luther King Jr’s. words and statements. Beliefs were tested, and hypocrisy is seen as well throughout the letter he wrote from inside the jail. The reactions from the public could later be seen at the March on Washington, just a short, few months after jail in April of 1963. Martin Luther King Jr. will forever have an outstanding impact in our world and society, for many more years to come. If he hadn’t taken a stand for what needed to be done, where would the people of our world, and nation be today?

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Letter from Birmingham Jail Analysis. (2021, Dec 13). Retrieved from


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