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Writing Assignment: Respond to King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail (Essay Sample)


Length: 300 typed words (about one page)
Audience: the instructor
Structure and Organization: The essay must be well-structured and paragraph must be well-developed with evidence from the text to support your assertions.
Format: Use MLA style (see “MLA Sample Paper” and/or EasyWriter p.253). Double space your essay in Times Roman pt 12. Do not write a separate title page. In your upper left hand corner, double spaced, include your name, your instructor, the course, and the date of submission. Create a Header in the upper right corner by using your header/footer feature. Give your essay a precise, interesting title, and center your title on the page.
Topics/Questions to consider:
1. How does Martin Luther King, Jr. create an appeal to our emotion? Cite examples of what you consider the most effective instances of that appeal.
2. What types of evidence does King use in his argument? Cite examples.
3. Modeling a Master. Using King's “letter” as your model, compose a letter to a target audience which examines a situation that you deem to be unfair and advocates specific action to right the wrong. First, you will need to spend some time studying the master. After reading the ‘Letter,” use the following outline to analyze King's rhetorical strategies; mark passages and make marginal notes to denote each component listed:
I. King's Introduction
• Presents the issue
• Explains how this situation came about
• Establishes common ground with his audience
• Adopts a tone that is both personal and academic
• Provides logical analysis of the situation at hand (appeal to logos) and invokes value appeals (pathos)
II. King's Concession
• Anticipates and articulates the opposition's case
• Shows his understanding of the opposition's views
• Addresses the opposition's case; introduces his refutation with a key word, “wait!”
• Appeals to pathos through the use of personal experience; create audience empathy, even as he asserts his case against the opposition
III. King's Rebuttal—Evidence and Appeals
• Uses definition and analysis/appeal to logos
• Uses appeals to authority/logos
• Uses examples/logos and pathos
• Uses comparison/logos and pathos
• Uses common ground values appeals/pathos
IV. King's Closing
• Regains audience empathy
• Strikes common ground by expressing shared needs and values
• States a clear “call to action”
• Creates a final sentence that capitalizes on use of first-person plural and resonates with “scintillating” imager


Response to a Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King Jr
The Letter from Birmingham Jail by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr addressed all Americans, brothers, and sisters especially the clergymen. Earlier before the letter, the clergymen wrote an open letter to Dr. King together with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) condemning all his actions during the protests in Birmingham. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr in his letter was upset upon the criticisms and wished to address all the concerns in the open letter. A letter from Birmingham jail encouraged the American people to realize a sense of interdependence, addressed causes of injustices, gave a personal view of struggle, encouraged public participation and emphasized on the nonviolent direct action for social change among others. The present essay responds to the letter address the below questions.
Question 1: How Dr. Martin Luther King Jr create an appeal
To ascertain the audience that everything is possible, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr used ethos and pathos to conform to the audience. Dr. King was able to inspire the civil rights activists and invoked empathy to the white moderate as well as developed compassion in the minds of clergymen in the letter. For example, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr began the letter by stating "My Dear Fellow Clergymen" to establish himself at the same level of competence to the audience and share same values. Then he proceeded by giving a defense on his credibility that was contrary to the views of clergymen who considered him an "outsider" (King Jr 1). Dr. King Jr addressed the issue by saying that he had the honor to serve as the president of the SCLC l

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