The Use of the Three Appeals in Letter from Birmingham Jail, a Letter by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

Many people know of Letter from Birmingham Jail, written by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but do you know what it was in response to? I, along with many others, did not know that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was responding to the 8 clergymen who wrote a document entitled A Call for Unity. The 8 clergymen who signed the document stated a plethora of things in their document in regards to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in which he responded to in his letter. Throughout his letter, he has many uses of pathos, logos, and ethos. In the text, Letter from Birmingham Jail, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. use pathos to appeal to the readers reading the letter in an emotional way. In the text, Dr. King states “…but when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim.” This is an emotional appeal because not many people have went through losing family members or friends due to racial hate. In those days, African Americans received the most hate. When he states this, he wanted the audiences, mainly the white men and women, to feel his pain. To understand what African Americans feel and have to go through because they [the white men and women) never have to experience their own race getting lynched or drowned or anything even worse in that case. Along with pathos, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. uses logos in his letter to appeal to the readers of his letter in a logical way.

In the letter he states “Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of police brutality is known in every section of this country.” This is logos because he is stating facts about Birmingham. He is exposing it of its cruelty and injustice. He wants the reader to know what Birmingham is really about; that the call for unity is not really for unity. He states Birmingham is the most segregated city in the United States. He mainly states this so the people can know that there is no call for unity and there never was going to be a call for unity. Finally, right along with pathos and logos, Dr. King uses ethos in his letter to appeal to the audience in an ethical manner. When he uses ethos throughout the letter, one statement he made was, “I am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson, and the great grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ.” This is ethos because he is speaking of a higher authority than him. He mentions a man (Christ), which is way higher up than him, to tell the readers of the letter that he is affiliated with the churches. In conclusion, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used the three appeals (pathos, logos, and ethos) all throughout his letter to appeal to the readers. He wanted the readers to understand his point of view on what the clergymen had to say. What Dr. King stated in his letter was in a sophisticated manner. As he states in the letter as well, “…but since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.” He said this because throughout this letter he mentioned everything in a respectful way towards the clergymen, while the clergymen did not do the same in the letter.

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The Use of the Three Appeals in Letter from Birmingham Jail, a Letter by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (2022, Sep 13). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/the-use-of-the-three-appeals-in-letter-from-birmingham-jail-a-letter-by-dr-martin-luther-king-jr/