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The Letter from Birmingham Jail; Plot of the Story and Rhetorical Analysis

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A person living on this earth inherently goes through troubling times, obstacles, and issues throughout their time in the entirety on this earth. Each person encounters different obstacles, along with the amount in which they are exposed to, life is not fair. There are two choices in which the person can elect, become a victim and succumb to the troubles of their life, subsequently not improving their life or they can persevere through the tough times and become the victor of life. The mindset of an individual can utterly change the outcome of life quality along with the progression of others enduring a similar situation. One person who decided to become a victor changed the lives of millions of people following his time, Martin Luther King Jr. By looking into the letter written by Martin Luther King while in the Birmingham Jail called, Letter from Birmingham Jail, we can see what type of mindset was employed during his movement.

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Mr. King was undoubtedly a victor in his fight of plaguing racism throughout the United States of America in his time, he did not sit idly by, he fought till his last dying breath to defeat such cancer of society. The cancer present in society was integrated societal racism against persons of color in every standing. In the letter, King explains the reason for which he is in Birmingham, Alabama as the “white power structure of this city left the Negro community with no other alternative.” (King, pg. 1) A decision was made at this point, the choice to fight back against the community which empowered hate. In fighting against such a terrible and seemingly impossible situation he did not call to fight against with violence, but quite the opposite, strategic non-violent movements. During this time many individuals enduring the same situation as he were against his ideas of combating this malignance as they believe that in doing this it would cause the situation to grow worse. This can be seen in several different ways, however, the easiest way to categorize it is being a victim of a horrific society. Everyone can be a victim of any situation, the victors’ response is much like Ronald Reagan’s response to the public in which he declares, “There is a price we will not pay.” In having a mindset of relentless persistence King left no stone unturned, no good fight left unfought.

In the letter, he contends that as many disagree with his immediate call to action stating, “This “wait” has almost meant “never”.” (King, pg. 2) The situation of individuals subjected to this societal disease must be considered, this only adds to Martin Luther King’s forged mindset of being a victor and persevering at all cost, in which he would later give his life to. Taking into account the fact that as this letter is being written from the cell of a Birmingham jail, King goes to the lengths in peace protests can also lead to civil disobedience, such as the rejection or breaking of unjust laws. An unjust law, through King’s eyes, must be resisted to show in which the corrupt manner the law forms its basis on, in addition to the attention it creates with the public showing its inherent injustice. A reference to Hitler’s Nazi Germany is made explaining that all of the heinous actions committed by the government were all completely legal, even the killing of its citizens. (King, pg.3) These actions of murder by the government were because of not committed any crimes, but the basis of the religious affiliations of the induvial, such as the Jewish people. In using this reference, he starts to form the basis of an unjust law including the basis on which to resist against in a certain manner. His presence in the jail at Birmingham reinstates the fact of his principles of resisting along with how to carry out the civil disobedience in the most effective way possible. Mr. King continues to represent the spirit of a fighting lion, he continued to combat each situation without fail to the very end until he was crowned the victor.

The Letter from Birmingham Jail rhetorical analysis shows that it  was written in such a manner to allow for less-educated individuals to not only comprehend the message but motivate, create self-reflection, and understand the situation in which the state of society is currently in. The third page of the letter expressly written towards his Christian and Jewish brothers showing the disappointment that has raised in him due to their lack of action. In calling out to these audiences King is hoping to create a victor mindset in these parties. By creating a victor mindset, it not only makes the specific individual choose a side of the predicament but also combat each issue with all their might correcting the wrongdoing of the society in which they reside in.

Mr. Martin Luther King Jr. still lives on even today in our society as laws, organizations, and evolution of the American culture, treating each person equal in all circumstances. Some believe that the reason he made such an immense impact was due to his amazing ability to speak in public, however, none of his amazing characteristics would be shown if it wasn’t for his victor mental mindset that allowed him to integrate all his qualities to enforce a change in society. Confidence of the goal of equal rights was unchanged in any circumstance of King’s fight as he continues to believe, “We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because of the goal of America is freedom.” (King, pg. 5) In this statement of confidence, he is reinforcing the fact that “freedom” is inevitable, in addition to ensuring it will happen at any cost. Through and through this mental mindset is that of a true victor of his situation and life as he is not submitting to his troubles. This mindset is one of the most prominent factors of the civil rights movement because without this there would be no action to repel the injustices set upon the people of color. Once achieved, victory is contagious, it creates a movement along with an entire group with a similar mentality. Out of one comes many victors through Martin Luther King Jr.’s footsteps to progress the movement in which to combat the cancers of the society. It is best said by Martin Luther King Jr. himself on becoming a victor in his saying, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convivence, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” (King)

References

  1. King, Martin Luther. “Letter From Birmingham Jail.” Letter From Birmingham Jail, https://web.cn.edu/kwheeler/documents/Letter_Birmingham_Jail.pdf.
  2. King, Martin Luther. “Martin Luther King, Jr. Quotes.” BrainyQuote, Xplore, https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/martin_luther_king_jr_109228.

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