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Letter From Birmingham Jail SOAPS Essay Sample

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Letter From Birmingham Jail SOAPS Essay Sample

• Subject: Answering several criticisms from the clergymen, Dr. King himself addressed why he was in Birmingham and why racial segregation needed to be changed now. He explicitly pointed out that civil disobedience was necessary and timely. He implicitly blamed the Christian church members for not standing up for their fellow brothers and justice; he also displayed disappointment at the leadership of the clergy.

• Occasion: The United States was still struggling with racial segregation in the 1950s and 1960s after so many years of oppression. Economic communities were giving colored people a hard time, and putting on humiliating racial signs. Aiming at several issues, in 1963, Dr. king’s organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) was invited to Birmingham to aid one of its affiliates in protesting intense segregationist policies. Though practicing nonviolent resistance, Dr. King was jailed in Birmingham for parading without a permit and willing to accept the penalty. Eight clergymen wrote a public statement in the Post-Herald criticizing the demonstrations, saying they are unwise and untimely. They also suggested that the demonstrators should take a mild approach and negotiate rather than to “incite to hatred and violence”

• Audience: Though this letter was meant to directly addressing to the eight white clergymen who publicly asked the black community to restrict their Birmingham demonstrations because they were “unwise and untimely”, Dr. King was aware that this message was going to spread to a much larger audience, therefore he also used his letter to address some universal questions of freedom and inequality. He spoke to the church as “I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour.” and “I have been so greatly disappointed with the white church and its leadership.” More widely Martian Luther King was addressing the world and imploring them to follow his actions because he believed that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. At the end of the letter, he said “ Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our feardrenched communities.”

• Purpose: Dr. King wrote this letter in response to the public statement rendered by eight clergymen from Alabama who are “men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement…” This letter was also written to reveal the underlying tension in racial issues, to remind people how long the minorities had suffered the injustice for no one stood out for them. It also appealed to Dr. King’s fellow brothers and the church members to eliminate the injustice by using civil disobedience, and direct action to “dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored.”

Journal #10

Letter from Birmingham Jail

November 10, 2014

Dr. King was calling out for help, there was no more waiting, and the people must fight for the rights themselves.

• Speaker: Martin Luther King Jr. was an civil rights activist in the 1950s and 1960s. He was an eloquent orator who used words like “ rise from the bondage of myths and halftruths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal.” His words appealed to the globe about racial segregation. He was also a modest speaker who respect the opinions of the others and mind his own words like “If I have said anything in this letter that overstates the truth and indicates and unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me.”

• Tone: The tone that Dr. King applied in the letter was very thorough and patient. He addressed to every single points that the clergymen had mentioned and expressed his thoughts assiduously. He carefully explained the four basic steps in organizing nonviolent events and how they proceeded the same way in the Birmingham demonstration also. By naming the demeaning and insulting experiences that his fellow people had suffered, he demonstrated to the clergymen how the circumstances had shown blacks the need to take direct action in achieving freedom and justice. Dr. King was patient and understanding to the views of the clergymen as he sought common grounds throughout the essay bringing up points they made and politely arguing them and creating an answer for the possible counter argument.

• The letter is also powerful and provocative. While being perfectly polite to the audience, Dr. King said “I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience,” because “there comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. He used some citations that provoked people’s thoughts and in the meantime appeal to pathos like “an unjust law is no law at all,” and “ The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason.” His words were powerful in a way that he directly showed his disappointment to the church and he was clear about his goal and “the goal of America is freedom.”

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