Letter from a Birmingham Jail - Rhetorical Strategies

Letter from a Birmingham Jail - Rhetorical Strategies
You can find this storyboard in the following articles and resources:
Ethos Pathos Logos

The Rhetorical Triangle: Ethos, Pathos, Logos

By Katherine Docimo and Kristy Littlehale

A great way to enhance understanding of effective arguments is to through Ethos, Pathos, and Logos. Ethos is the credibility of the speaker or writer; pathos draws the audience in through emotional connection, and logos uses logic, reasoning, evidence, and facts to support an argument. A key to strong persuasive writing is the ability to dissect and validate, or debunk, the rhetoric of other arguments.


Letter from a Birmingham Jail Lesson Plans

Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King Jr

Lesson Plans by Kristy Littlehale

"Letter from a Birmingham Jail" challenged the complacent attitudes of the local clergymen during the Civil Right’s movement, as Martin Luther King, Jr. sat in a jail cell for his peaceful protests against injustice. Teach your students all about this important letter with Storyboard That!




Letter from Birmingham Jail

Storyboard Description

Letter from a Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King Jr. | Rhetoric

Storyboard Text

  • ETHOS
  • I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state... we have some eighty-five affiliated organizations across the South...
  • PATHOS
  • In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church. How could I otherwise?
  • LOGOS
  • "Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority."
  • King is establishing his credentials and experience as a way of leveling the intellectual and religious playing field with the members of the clergy he is responding to in his letter. He is also establishing his reasons for being in Alabama.
  • King is appealing to the shared love of religion and the church that all clergy members (should) share, and subtly reminding the clergymen that their religion is his religion, too. They should all be on the same team during this crisis. He is also showing the depth of his concern, and his love for the church.
  • King is using common sense and logic to point out that laws that go against the very fabric of American ideals (soul, human personality) should not be upheld. The very rights the forefathers fought for should be upheld for all.
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