In the “Letter from Birmingham”, the most noticeable spokesperson who played an enormous role in American history was able to grasp his audience’s attention in several areas utilizing variety of methods.
The King demonstrated his ability to influence his fellow protesters, supplicated the same feelings in white moderates, and develop sympathy within the thoughts of the actual people he’s referring the letter to. In spite of the fact that the whole letter is anchored on appeals to emotion and to the clergymen that criticized him, the pathos in this “Letter” is basically about how the African Americans are being treated differently in the community. Martin Luther King Jr painted an image in his letter of how black Americans in the South are going through. When you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking:”Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”(12) King utilize this phrase to draw particular category of people who adore children on a daily basis.
He provided this idea so that the white people would recognize the pain of the black community. Furthermore, he also mentioned how the criminal justice system treated the African Americans. “I doubt that you would so quickly commend the policemen if you were to observe their ugly and inhumane treatment of Negroes here in the city jail; if you were to watch them push and curse old Negro women and young Negro girls; if you were to see them slap and kick old Negro men and young boys; if you were to observe them, as they did on two occasions, refuse to give us food because we wanted to sing our grace together. I cannot join you in your praise of the Birmingham police department.”(34) In those days, it was difficult for people to get notified of the Negro victims every time the policemen threaten their lives, the King used his platform to fix things in the right way. The king continue on with his statement hoping that the white people would come across it and tend to fit themselves in the situation.
In addition, the first appeal using ethos in this letter is when King addressed ‘My dear fellow clergymen’. He used this ethos appeal to notify the audience about his responsibility as a leader and how he’s playing a big part in his community, rather than having his audience thinking about him in any other useless way. By using this method he was revealing his true identity of being credible, trustworthy, and honest. Note that the letter was written during the racial turmoil so, Dr King was calling them fellow clergymen to give them a picture of having equal opportunity. Although it may look seem like King was trying to be the greatest political strategist of all time, he firmly believed he was stating the truth in every word he said. This was one of the significant techniques he utilized as well because he was in jail during the time when the letter was written. On the other hand, you’ll find the most basic argument of King’s letter in paragraph 14 when he was talking about the just and unjust laws. Let us consider a more concrete example of just and unjust laws.
An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal. (34) It is clearly stated that just laws should be followed, and defying the unjust laws. In this matter, King tried to convince the audience to fall for such topic so, he supported his idea from every angle by providing as much information as he could. Moreover, the King did support his text with accurate definition of two laws and quite obvious about the fact that their people are being denied to vote. Even though King uses so much pathos in this letter, he didn’t give in to believe that the outcome of all this devastating moment will be beautiful.
“I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are at present misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America’s destiny.”(34) He was gently referring to his followers that no matter how ugly it is to accept the sad truth that they’re facing at the moment, eventually, there will always be hope at the end of the tunnel for them. There is absolutely everything in the “Letter from Birmingham Jail”. The King made an urgent request while trying to imply his audience into understanding how the African Americans are suffering in the community. He decided to wrap it up in a very proper way hoping that his letter reaches all ears and hearts of the audience, and of course that America will be free from the racial conflict that they’ve been through.