16 April 2018
Martin Luther King Jr. in Response to Eight Alabama Clergymen
Martin Luther King Jr.’s inspiration for writing this letter was to respond to the eight white clergymen’s unjust proposals against his actions of non violent protests in Birmingham, Alabama. With this letter, he is able to present a rebuttal that would live in on and still be taught in schools today. He effectively crafted his counter argument by directly addressing the clergymen, and using effective writing techniques to refute his opponent’s statements and present his own perspective. Even though the clergy make a reasonable argument that the local community can best handle racial matters and that patience is critical in these difficult times, Dr. King disagrees, and in so doing, he makes a more compelling and convincing argument.
When this letter was written, Martin Luther King had been jailed for his participation in several peaceful protests regarding segregation in public places, such as bathrooms and lunch counters. While he was jailed, Dr. King read the “Public Statement by Eight Alabama Clergymen,” who felt that such demonstrations “directed and in part led by outsiders” were “unwise and untimely”, and also suggested that the blacks should wait for the court system to work. He writes this letter with true passion and confidence, and defends the injustice of segregation and the need for some occasional civil disobedience. Throughout his letter, he defends his reasons for equality by making comparisons of actual events and views of other people as well.
The most effective aspect of his letter is his attitude and presentation of his argument in a non-attacking format. For example, he starts out his letter by addressing them, “my dear fellow clergymen.” Immediately, this goes to show that Dr. King is a better man than the clergy because he did not try to make his message indirect such as the clergy did, but rather addressed them in an inviting, non-threatening way. The beginning of his letter also establishes his reputation and knowledge of Biblical references and political leaders as well. Although Martin Luther King Jr. expresses his disappointment for the “white moderates,” he is not negative or derogatory towards them. Through this passage he recognizes the flaws of his opponents and provides rebuttals to their arguments, but does not place blame on the white community in any way whatsoever. Martin Luther King Jr. shows that he praises the acts of some church members in supporting his goal of equality. “I commend you, Reverend Starlings, for your christian stand on this past Sunday, in welcoming Negroes to your worship service on a non-segregated bias.” Dr. King takes the time out of his letter towards the clergy to acknowledge that there are still people out there who know what is right and are not blinded by stereotypes and biases.
Another very effective method King uses in his letter to the clergy is the appeal to emotion. “When...