In saying that segregation should be fought
In order to successfully write rhetorically, an author must persuade an audience as if to win a debate.
To do this, the author must create a trustworthy bond with the audience, support his claim through reason, and create emotion in the audience that compels them to leap out of their seats and take action. Martin Luther King Jr. attempted to do this when he wrote an open letter while in his jail cell after a peaceful debate against segregation. His lettered response was guided at a statement by eight white Alabama clergymen saying that segregation should be fought in court and not on the streets.King uses a combination of three rhetorical appeals to accomplish his rhetor; ethical, logical and emotional.
The three appeals used together successfully persuade the audience to believe King’s argument. The rhetorical trinity consists of three parts; purpose, author, and audience. In order to understand what King was trying to persuade the audience into believing, the three parts to the rhetorical trinity must be identified. The purpose of King’s letter was to explain to the clergyman that direct action is necessary for negotiation; as King says “You are quite right in calling for negotiation.
Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. ” The second part of the trinity is the author; Martin Luther King Jr. King was a strong advocate and leader to all blacks in the 1960’s during anti-segregation movements.
King was greatly opposed to segregation and was jailed many times for his actions. King was known most for his speech “I Have a Dream” given to Congress supporting civil rights which was a huge turning point for blacks seeking freedom from oppression. The final part of the trinity is audience.
King’s audience was primarily the white clergyman but included all of the American public. “Ethos” or ethical appeal, the first step in rhetor, is an argument based on character. The defining character for ethical appeal is does the writer have the authority to speak on the issue, is the writer trustworthy or creditable, and does the writer have good motives while addressing the issue.
King understands where blacks are coming from in wanted equal rights. King sees the injustices of the black communities and is very involved in black movements which what what put him in jail.By being African American as well as witnessing injustices, King has firsthand knowledge which establishes his authority to speak on this issue of racial equality. King shows the audience that he is competent by stating that he is the President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. This helps show his strength of leadership in the religious community. This also again shows his competency to speak on the issue of equal rights.
He continues to establish empathy by stating how he normally doesn’t respond to criticism; however he chose to respond this time due to the “genuine good will” of the clergymen.That response in itself tells the clergymen that he and the clergyman are on the same playing field, one pastor to another. King showed the clergymen’s “good will” deserved a response which established trust.
Creating an ethical appeal in a rhetorical piece is essential in persuading the audience to believe an authors argument. In order for King to persuade the audience of his purpose, justifying direct action, he must explain logically to the audience his claims about the issue. “Logos” also known as logical appeal is argument based on facts and reason.Once King has the intended respect from the clergyman, he begins to prove to the clergyman about the injustices that are happening in Birmingham, “But more basically, I am here in Birmingham because injustice is here”. To convince the clergyman for his arrival he says “Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct-action program…We readily consented, and when the hour came we lived us to our promise…I am here because I have organizational ties here.
He then tells the clergyman that he is here because he can’t ignore his promises within the organization; it would be against God to do such a thing. He also states “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere…whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. This statement is the strongest in Kings Letter.
He is saying we respond to injustice with direct action not because direct action is more efficient, but because there is no way to negotiate with the white leaders of Birmingham. The last of the three appeals is pathos or emotional appeal. Emotion in rhetoric is important; it is what drives the audience to act.To arouse emotion, King discusses how oppressors do not understand the views of the oppressed; “I suppose I should have realized that few members of the oppressor race can understand the deep groans and passionate yearnings of the oppressed race”. He also uses religion to evoke emotion. The church was sensitive to the clergymen so comparing religion to the situation at hand helped King evoke guilt from the clergymen.
“If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country’s antireligious laws. King also uses his children to bring shame to the clergymen when his son asks him “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean? ” and when he exhibits disrespect when he says “when your first name becomes ‘Nigger’, your middle name becomes ‘boy’…and your last name becomes ‘John’…your wife and mother are never given the respected title ‘Mrs. ’” All of these together make the audience want to step up and take action once one of these statements reaches them on a personal level, whether it be by children or religion. King uses inductive reasoning to create a logical flow from the opening of his letter to the salutation.
After King establishes trustworthiness, he beings to support his claims. He starts with facts “We have waited more than 340 years for our constitutional and Godgiven rights”. He then introduces opinion “you express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws…. we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court’s decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in public schools”.
Then he takes a giant leap called the inductive leap to the conclusion where he says “the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty. The way King moves from logic to emotion to the conclusion illustrates inductive reasoning. In Martin Luther King Jr. “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” written in response to the eight clergymen’s statement against direct action, King establishes trust, competency and empathy before he begins to explain his claims and persuade his audience to believe his argument. Finally King concludes with a strong emotional appeal that draws the audience to standing up for black rights. By accomplishing the three appeals of rhetorical analysis, ethical, logical and emotional, King has successfully written his rhetor.