Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: A Master of Peaceful Protests

5 May 2017

Still, he held to his nonviolent beliefs when an armed, angry mob of blacks crowded his home demanding Justice. He said, “l want you to go home and put down your weapons. We cannot resolve this problem through retaliatory violence. We must meet violence with nonviolence… We must meet hate with love” (Adelman & Johnson 2007). King had his critics ranging from racist whites who wanted to uphold Jim Crow laws to what King called “moderate whites” who wanted all change to come through egislation.

He even saw criticism from other Civil Rights leaders such as Malcom X not to defend himself when he is the constant victim of brutal attacks,” and “We should be peaceful, law-abiding”but the time has come for the American Negro to fight back in self-defense whenever and wherever he is being unjustly and unlawfully attacked” (X 1964). King was Jailed for his actions in Civil Rights demonstrations in Birmingham and was the subject of an open letter from eight well-known, white, liberal clergymen in January of 1963.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: A Master of Peaceful Protests Essay Example

One excerpt from the letter stated, “We expressed understanding hat honest convictions in racial matters could be properly pursued in the courts, but urged that decisions of those courts should in the meantime be peacefully obeyed. ” The letter continued, “However, we are now confronted by a series of demonstrations by some of our Negro citizens, directed and led in part by outsiders. We recognize the natural impatience of people who feel that their hopes are slow in being realized.

But we are convinced that these demonstrations are unwise and untimely. ” The letter ends with, “We appeal to both our white and Negro citizenry to observe the principles f law and order and common sense” (Priests for life 2012). King’s response to this letter is his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail. ” King uses all three rhetorical devices in his letter. His first line, “My dear fellow Clergymen,” (King 1963) was an example of Ethos and meant to create both credibility and a common bond.

He explains that even though he doesnt usually answer criticism, he would this time because “l feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth” (King 1963). He compares himself to the Apostle Paul and later in the letter refers to the Clergymen as “my Christian and Jewish brothers” (King 1963). All of these statements were meant to increase his credibility and form a deeper connection with his critics.

When accused of being an extremist, he responds by saying that many admirable men in history were also extremists such as Jesus, Amos, the Apostle Paul, Martin Luther, John Bunyan, Abraham Lincoln, and Thomas Jefferson (King 1963). This also seemed to me, a way to show that he is their equal in education as well. In King’s final sentence, he says that he hopes the letter “finds you in strong faith” and that he s writing “as a fellow clergyman and a Christian brother” (King 1963). It was effective for King to try to appeal to the clergymen as an equal, especially since he is promoting equality.

King used Pathos to appeal to emotions when writing, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to Justice everywhere” (King 1963). He talks about being “victims of a broken promise” and goes on to lay out many injustices faced by black people ranging from lynch mobs, seeing your brothers in poverty, trying to explain to your daughter why she cannot go to Funtown, being called “nigger” and “boy,” and being “plagued with nner fears and outer resentments” (King 1963). These are all reprehensible acts and he is trying to drive up the level of sympathy for his brothers in America.

King uses Pathos to explain that his nonviolent resistance is the best stance because, “If this philosophy had not emerged, by now many streets of the South would, I am convinced be flowing with blood,” and “millions of Negroes will, out of frustration and despair, seek solace in black-nationalist ideologies a development that would inevitably lead to a frightening racial nightmare” (King 1963). That last statement is X’s more extreme viewpoint. King points out that “there is a more excellent way of love and nonviolent protest. It was important that King pointed out love to the clergymen to remind them of Christ’s command to love thy neighbor. In his final statement, he says “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 fear- drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty’ (King 1963). I think this appeals to the vision of America that these “white oderates” hope to see in America, even if by different means than King.

Lastly, King used Logos to appeal to the logic in these clergyman. He explains that even though he is an outsider, he needed to be in Birmingham. “So l, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here I am here because I have organizational ties here. ” (King 1963) He agrees that, “It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city’s white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative” (King 1963), spinning the argument around.

He enlightens his critics of the true purpose of these demonstrations, “Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored” (King 1963). These clergymen are asking him to wait for a better time, to which he responds, “We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God-given rights” (King 1963).

To answer why he is breaking laws, he quotes from St. Thomas Aquinas, “l would agree with St. Augustine that ‘an unjust law is no law at ll” (King 1963). He alludes to Biblical references to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and historical events such as Adolf Hitler and the Boston Tea Party to further his explanation on unjust laws. I believe that King thoroughly explained the necessity of nonviolent demonstrations and answered the criticisms from his fellow clergymen very effectively through the use of ethos, logos, and pathos.

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