Project #33507 - Martin Luther King Jr. Letter of a Birmingham Jail

After reading Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.‟s essay “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” analyze 

paragraphs 14 and 15, making note of his use of emotional appeals. Many critics believe this is 

the strongest section of the letter. Write an essay stating whether you agree or disagree with this 

assessment of King‟s letter. If you agree, give supporting evidence from the letter to prove your 

point. If you disagree, name the paragraph or paragraphs that you believe have more emotional 

appeal and explain why these paragraphs use emotions more effectively than paragraphs 14 and 



Paper Requirements 


1. Length: 4-5 pages (that means AT LEAST 4 full pages of text). 

2. Paper set-up: use MLA style. The essay is to be double-spaced using 12-point Times 

New Roman font with 1 inch margins all around. 

3. A Works Cited page is required. 

1. A Works Cited page is always the last page of an essay – all by itself 

2. The page numbers of the essay carry through to the Works Cited page 

3. The entries of a Works Cited page are in alphabetical order by author‟s last name 

(see the last page of this prompt for an example) 

4. Be sure to begin with a creative title that will invite the audience (me) to continue 




Paragraph 14: 

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God-given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we stiff creep at horse-and-buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging dark of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross-country drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you go forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness" then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.


Paragraph 15: 

You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may want to ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all"


Subject English
Due By (Pacific Time) 06/18/2014 12:00 am
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