Last Updated 05 Jan 2023

Martin Luther Kings Use of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos in Letters From Birmingham Jail

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In Martin Luther King's "Letter from Birmingham" he is responding to a letter he received

from eight Alabama clergymen. In this letter the eight men accuse him of being an "extremist" because of his nonviolent protest movement. King uses ethos, logos and pathos to show that nonviolent protesting does not qualify him as being an extremist.

King uses ethos in paragraph 27 by tell the reader how he is between two opposing negro forces. He then tells the reader the different types of forces which include one side that has adjusted to segregation and the other which has become bitter and began to advocate for violence. This gives the reader some insight on what is happening. They may know about one of those two groups but not about the other which in part helps the reader to trust in what he is saying. Also the reader trusts what he is saying he is replying to a letter that was addressed to


To appeal to logos Martin Luther King says that if the nonviolence philosophy had not been emerged, the streets of the South would be "flowing with blood" He is giving the reader a possible outcome if his way of thinking is not adapted. If everyone becomes adapted to segregation then nothing will ever change and if everyone becomes filled with hatred and bitterness then nothing will be solved. King says in paragraph 30 that "Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself..." This helps his argument by showing the people the inevitable.

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King uses religion in his appeal to pathos. In paragraph 28 he says that "I am grateful to God that, through the influence of the Negro church, the way of nonviolence became an integral part of our struggle." He says this not only because he is a preacher but because it makes the reader feel what he is saying. He knows that if he brings God into the equation people will be

more willing to listen and think about what is being said.

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