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    The Counter-Argument to the Public Statement of Alabama Clergymen in Martin Luther King Junior’s The Letter from Birmingham Jail

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    Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the Public Statement made by eight Alabama clergymen in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” In this letter, King counter-argues the points the clergymen were making and uses logos, ethos, and pathos in order to make his counter-argument. By disproving the statements made by the clergymen and by having strong logos, ethos, and pathos, King provides a solid argument.

    King starts his letter by explaining why he is in Birmingham. This helps King establish ethos to help him win over the people who might have been swayed by the clergymen. In the second paragraph, King says “Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call…”.

    This supporting evidence can be backed up by just simply asking the affiliate, but the readers would most likely not need to because King has justified his presence and established thorough ethos. He also goes on to say that he is in Birmingham because there is injustice in Birmingham. This helps prove that Martin Luther King Jr. is there as a force to help change, and not to start a riot. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ability to write so calmly to people who were attacking him also helped his ethos.

    Martin Luther King Jr. also uses logos to further his argument. He explains the process of nonviolent protesting in the sixth paragraph. These four steps are very logical and practical and do not mean to cause harm to anyone. They are only a means to an end of injustice. “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” This statement made by King is so concise, but holds so much meaning. This one sentence makes complete sense and further proves why King should be in Birmingham. However, logic is not the main way King supports his argument.

    King also heavily supports his argument with pathos. In the twelfth paragraph, the examples of pathos are very strong. He lists many things that he and other blacks have seen just because of racial differences. The first thing he mentions is “when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim.”

    This paints a very vivid image in the minds of people who have not seen this, and further enrages those who have been affected by such an action. Another thing he says in the same paragraph is how it is rough “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?”” People are usually drawn to statements and sad comments involving children. It plucks at the heartstrings of individuals knowing that a five year old child is upset because he cannot fathom why people are so mean to other people just because of skin color. The audience of this letter will sympathize and begin to understand King’s point of view.

    Martin Luther King Jr. is known as the man who helped blacks gain rights, the man who achieved so much without using violence, and the man who gave the “I Have a Dream” speech. Having read his letter to the clergymen, it is not hard to see why people followed him so easily. His ethos is well-established and he is very trustworthy. He uses logos to help people see the reason behind his words. He uses pathos to move people and get them to understand the situations and the pain being brought to an entire race. Martin Luther King Jr. very thoroughly covered the areas of doubt from the clergymen as well as secured his argument and persuaded people to take his side in the cause.

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    The Counter-Argument to the Public Statement of Alabama Clergymen in Martin Luther King Junior’s The Letter from Birmingham Jail. (2022, Dec 13). Retrieved from https://artscolumbia.org/the-counter-argument-to-the-public-statement-of-alabama-clergymen-in-martin-luther-king-juniors-the-letter-from-birmingham-jail/

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