Orellana 1Edison OrellanaMrs. CottinghamRhetoric 1054 March 2013
ON THE EFFECTIVENESS OF PATHOS IN MARTIN LUTHER KING JR’S
LETTER FROM BIRMINGHAM JAIL
In 1963 Martin Luther King Jr. wrote a letter while incarcerated in Birmingham jail toeight clergymen in response to their letter known as “
A Call For Unity.”
The letter asked for thehalt of direct action type protest in Birmingham, Alabama that Martin Luther King was leading. The letter has become known as one of the greatest works of argument in American history. Partof the reason for the letter’s notoriety and effectiveness is due to its eloquent use of pathos.King’s use of pathos in his letter not only supports the claims that he makes but also makes hisargument morally irrefutable.King’s letter is littered here and there with snippets of pathos that appear next to logosand ethos and some sections are exclusively use pathos. King’s paragraph explaining why it isdifficult to wait for the end of segregation is one that is entirely dedicated to stirring the emotionof the reader of which it does quite an effective job. The main theme throughout the paragraph isKing’s urge to the clergymen to see things from the black person’s perspective. The clergymenwant King to wait for their chance at freedom so that the courts may handle it. Since patience isuniversally considered as a virtue, they believe it is perfectly reasonable to ask King to delay hisdirect action so that desegregation can be handled in the courts. King makes the claim that thetime to wait is over. He says, “We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional andGod given rights.” (King 12) It is important to notice that King associates himself and all blacks
King, Martin L. "Letter from a Birmingham Jail [King, Jr.]."
Letter froma BirminghamJail [King, Jr.]
.AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER - UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA, n.d. Web. 03 Mar. 2013.<http://goo.gl/3dSE>.