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Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Letter from Birmingham Jail: Rogerian Argument

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Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Letter from Birmingham Jail: Rogerian Argument Essay

In the Letter from Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King Jr. uses persuasive speech to respond to the opposition. King structures his language to follow a method resembling the Rogerian Argument, which combats the oppression against humanity. By clearly stating the problem, restating the opponents position and the merit it holds, summarizing his own position, demonstrating why his position has merit, and concluding with a proposal which appeals to both sides in the conflict, King successfully counters the clergymens letter with fairness and honesty.

In the Letter from Birmingham Jail, the message portrayed is listening with understanding. The letter is presented in a dialogue manner, rather than a monologue. King restates the overall problem, and then proceeds to summarize what his opponents have said. The resistance is stemmed from a public statement by eight clergymen from Alabama. In this statement, the clergymen both condemn his work and support the injustice demonstrated by the police. King is able to show an understanding of the clergymans stances and the different outlooks of all America by summarizing the viewpoints of the clergymen. He acknowledges their arguments, giving them equal respect and definition, and then contests them, by explaining their faults. For example, King addresses the charges brought against him, and proceeds to explain why the charges were unjust. A law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had no part in enacting or devising the law. He also brings to attention the clergymans disapproval of the demonstrations, and explains why their position has no merit. You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. He gives merit to their argument, but then removes the worth in their complaint. This technique persuades the reader to side with King, because he has eliminated the value of the opponents position.

When summarizing his own position, King presents examples and then concludes with their importance and significance to the fight for equal human rights only after he has responded to the opposition. These facts include: the ugly record of brutality, grossly unjust treatment in courts, and unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches, supporting his position. The Rogerian method provides each side of the argument a chance to make and support their position.

Kings letter to the Alabama clergymen ends with a proposal. This proposal is similar to that of a plea for justice. Through the establishment of a common ground, King reaches out to those who have experienced racial injustice in Birmingham, and extends it to those who have had any form of wrong treatment in America. Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty. The proposal which King concludes with follows along the Rogerian lines by appealing to the self-interest of bothe sides in the conflict.

Martin Luther Kings skillful letter, Letter from a Birmingham Jail, and flair for word choice attacked the supremacy which was held against the African Americans. King successfully states the problem, summarizes and refutes his opponents position, presents his own position shows its merit, and concludes with a proposal that reached everyonemodeling the Rogerian argument for his position.

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Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail: Rogerian Argument. (2018, Jun 09). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from
“Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail: Rogerian Argument.” GradesFixer, 09 Jun. 2018,
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