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Letter from a Birmingham Jail

  • Date Submitted: 10/12/2010 06:53 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 54.2 
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Matt Donoho
Eng 101
Calls for Peace
            The year was 1963.  African Americans were facing rough times throughout the United States, predominantly in the South, and in this year took a bolt stand against segregation.  Sit ins, boycotts, protests, and parades were carried out in peace, even though those who were being protested against were responding in violence and rage. In the town of Birmingham, Alabama the majority of these actions took place and caused an abundance of controversy.  A man known as Martin Luther King Jr. led these peaceful calls for change and during a march for desegregation on Good Friday, King was arrested and spent eight days in jail.  While confined King wrote a moving letter called, “Letter from Birmingham Jail” in response to another letter entitled, “A Call for Unity: A Letter From Eight White Clergymen”.  In the following essay I will be examining the argumentative methods each author used in their emotionally driven letters.
            In “A Call for Unity: A Letter From Eight White Clergymen” it opens with stating that even though segregation is a problem, and should be addressed immediately, the issue should only be handled in the court system and not on the streets.  Also, in the meantime the clergy men ask that the decisions made by the court be “peacefully obeyed” to maintain order.  The clergy men go on to state that all the protests, sit ins, boycotts, and parades are causing problems for the responsible citizens and businesses. Instead of taking action by these means the clergy men say, “In Birmingham, recent public events have given indication that we all have opportunity for a new constructive and realistic approach to racial problems.”  Basically, the clergy men are asking for no one to stand up and make a difference, but instead for African Americans to sit back and let things fix themselves. 
            King responds to the clergy men’s call for negotiation in “Letter from Birmingham Jail”.  He claims that by...


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