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Analysis of the Martin Luther King Jr’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail

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Martin Luther King JR’s “A letter from a Birmingham jail” is a letter MLK wrote to address a huge problem in the south at the time “racism”. This letter is the single most prominent letter written in the civil rights era. The document addresses the critics he received from the clergymen. Letter from a Birmingham Jail was targeted to discuss the prejudices in the African American community back in the 20th century.

Martin Luther King directs his letter towards eight white ministers. MLK was arrested for conducting a nonviolent protest on good Friday apart of the Birmingham campaign. This arrest would become the most prominent arrest of his political career. The police ordered Luther King to solitary confinement in jail. Shortly after the arrest his friend snuck in a letter that was written by the ministers. The eight ministers publicly condemned King’s demonstrations and Luther King himself. MLK soon created a response towards them. Martin Luther King first started writing his speech in the margins of a newspaper. King managed to create a 7,000-word response. He criticized religious leaders and white individuals that just sat back while King was fighting for his civil rights. He gave his letter to his lawyers. The final version of the letter addressed two themes: justification and admonishment. MLK justified his actions of breaking the law and his extremism. The document never actually appeared in the clergymen’s hands. Later, the letter was released to the national press, was reprinted and released to the general population.

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It’s been decades since King began writing his famous letter. A letter from a Birmingham jail still resonates with all of us today. Dr Martin Luther King JR’s heartfelt paper is considered the most famous document of the civil rights era. The letter is impressive in a few different ways. Dr King didn’t have any notes to write the letter, so he did this all from memory. King wrote on scraps of writing paper supplied by a jail trusty and notepads surreptitiously brought into the jail by his attorneys. Its extraordinary that he wrote it without notes. It’s all in his soul and his spirit.

 Another amazing aspect of the letter, according to some historians, is the multitude of perspectives that King brings to his response letter. He expressed empathy with the lives of millions of people and with the life of a single child at a moment. He tried to look not only at white preachers through the eyes of African Americans but also at Negroes through the perspective of white preachers. Rhetorical analysis of A Letter From a Birmingham Jail shows how King established a kind of universal voice, beyond time, beyond race. He speaks to all oppressed people, and that’s his concern. 

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