Martin Luther King Jr. utilizes persuasive language in his Letter from Birmingham Jail to address the opposition while employing a form similar to the Rogerian Argument. This strategy is aimed at combating human oppression. King effectively rebuts the clergymen’s letter by clearly stating the issue, restating the opponents’ viewpoint and acknowledging its merits, summarizing his own stance, presenting the merits of his position, and concluding with a proposal that appeals to both sides in the dispute. His response is characterized by fairness and honesty.
The Letter from Birmingham Jail emphasizes the importance of listening with understanding. Instead of delivering a monologue, the letter takes the form of a dialogue. King reiterates the main issue and proceeds to provide a summary of his opponents’ perspectives. The resistance stems from a public statement made by eight clergymen from Alabama. In this statement, the clergymen not only condemn King’s work but also support the injustice perpetrated by the police. King demonstrates his understanding of the clergymen’s positions and different perspectives held throughout America by summarizing their viewpoints. He acknowledges their arguments, giving them equal respect and clarification, before challenging them by explaining their flaws.
For example, King acknowledges and responds to the charges against him, and proceeds to articulate why those charges were unfair. According to him, a law is deemed unjust if it is imposed on a minority group that, due to being denied voting rights, had no involvement in creating or devising such law. He also draws attention to the clergymen’s disapproval of the protests, and explains why their stance lacks substance. While you express disapproval of the ongoing demonstrations in Birmingham, your statement disappointingly fails to show a similar concern for the underlying conditions that led to these protests. King acknowledges the validity of their argument, but then undermines the significance of their grievances. By employing this technique, he seeks to persuade the reader to align with his standpoint by diminishing the value of his opponents’ position.
In his own position summary, King presents examples and then concludes with their importance and significance to the struggle for equal human rights. He does so only after addressing the opposing argument. These examples include the history of brutality, unjust treatment in courts, and unsolved bombings of African American homes and churches. By using the Rogerian method, both sides of the argument are given an opportunity to state and defend their position.
King’s letter to the Alabama clergymen concludes with a proposal that resembles a plea for justice. By finding common ground, King reaches out to those who have faced racial injustice in Birmingham and extends it to anyone who has experienced mistreatment in America. We hope that racial prejudice will soon disappear and that the cloud of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-filled communities. Eventually, the stars of love and brotherhood will shine brightly over our nation. The proposal King presents follows the Rogerian approach by appealing to the self-interest of both sides involved in the conflict.
Martin Luther King effectively denounced the discrimination faced by African Americans in his powerful letter, “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”. Through careful word selection, he tackled the issue of superiority imposed upon them. King skillfully addressed the problem, countered his opponents’ arguments, presented his own viewpoint and its value, and concluded with a proposal that resonated with everyone. This approach exemplified the Rogerian argument method in advocating his position.