Classic Leadership Training and Development
In leadership, there are the three types’ persuasive appeals that are meant to persuade the audience. Firstly, the ethos appeal that speaker uses his reputation to persuade an audience to agree with an argument. Secondly, the pathos appeal that uses emotions of the audience to get sympathy for an argument. Finally, the logos appeal that persuade an audience by use of proper reasoning and logic (Vyas, 2013).
In the Birmingham Jail Letter, Dr. Martin Luther King demonstrates the strength of his words by incorporating these three appeals. As an influential leader and a great speaker, he incorporates ethos, pathos and logos to make an argumentative appeal to statements issued by eight clergymen criticizing his actions in a nonviolent protest in Birmingham. He uses the three persuasion methods to put across his ideas to the clergymen in his fight for justice (Sawyers, 2013).
Dr. King utilization of ethos is clearly seen in his comparison of how he left Atlanta to go to Birmingham just like how Apostle Paul had to leave his village to preach the gospel in other places. The words of the bible are widely followed and respected and a reference to them is helpful in establishing credibility and trust. Some sentences are also ethically appealing to his audience, such as making the clergymen know that he takes them in high regard as men of good will and believes there was a good reason for their criticism. He also states he is the president of a Christian organization in the South that is affiliated with other eighty five organizations in the same region (King Jr, 2012). Holding positions of civil rights activist leader and preacher gives him credibility to fight segregation in the Southerner States through these organizations. Further, he explains the steps followed in the nonviolent campaigns just like the one which took place in Birmingham. Including these steps in the letter is meant to appeal to the audience that the nonviolent campaigns were not conducted in any hasty manner (Sawyers, 2013).
He talks about how the black community in Birmingham had become victims of broken promises. They no longer had hope in the administration of justice since their past experiences had been full of disappointments from the existing structures of power. It is, therefore ethical and a pathos appeal for the audience to understand the need for actions that would help the African Americans get justice (Vyas, 2013). As a man of God, Dr. King makes a continuous appeal to the clergymen to have empathy for the suffering of other human beings; this too demonstrates the use of pathos. Through the examples he provides showing blacks suffering, the audience could feel empathy for the black community in Birmingham. For instance, he writes about the well known ugly record of brutality in jails and cites the high number of the bombing of Negro homes and churches that had not been resolved (King Jr., 2012).
The logos method of persuasion provides a wide explanation between the just and unjust laws in a simplistic way. He talks of laws that uplift the human personality as just while those that disregard human personality as unjust laws (King Jr., 2012). He employs logos to provide the logic behind the demonstrations in Birmingham. He argues it was logical to take direct action since the Negro community had been left with no other choice by the political structure in the city that was composed of white people. This also shows pathos appeal since it expresses the pain of the segregated blacks that was pushing them to demand freedom from their oppressors. He emotionally appeals to his audience who had never had any painful experiences of segregation by giving examples of black people oppressions (Vyas, 2013). For instance, he cites an unfairness that sees the blacks treated in an inhumane manner by police in jail or lynched by mobs; their high level of poverty in a wealthy society; the segregation in enjoying public social places like parks and hotels; their constant and daily humiliations like names calling (King Jr., 2012). These examples evoke emotions of guilt, sadness and anger in his audience. They push for an understanding from his audience that the black community does not want to endure any more suffering (Sawyers, 2013).
Dr. King uses logical appeal to show the significance of taking direct action now. He compares America inaction to fighting for equality to Asia and Africa as the continents moving at high speed in their fight for freedom from colonial masters. This is meant to persuade the audience to see something is needed to be done to change the current situation. He logically persuades his audience by stating that he believes that the way to handle the social revolution should be by looking at the underlying causes. To further persuade the audience his involvement, he explains how an injustice in one part of the U.S resorted to injustice everywhere in the United States. For this reason, he could not be comfortable staying in Atlanta while there were problems in Birmingham (King Jr., 2012). There is a logical explanation why the campaign was scheduled during the Easter season. Being a period of the year most people do shopping, the program would ensure an economic boycott, which would negatively affect businesses. This would be a good way to pressurize the traders who were essential in implementing required changes. He also argues that from past information it is not easy for those with privileges o give them up easily and therefore, the need for this struggle (Sawyers, 2013).
Martin Luther King Jr. letter is a good demonstration of how the ethos, pathos and logos appeal can be used to strengthen an argument to an audience. He mostly uses the logos appeal to respond to the statements made by the clergymen in a great way. He is able to provide credible justification for the non-violent protests in Birmingham. Individuals in leadership positions should therefore embrace these appeals when making a presentation to their audiences.
King Jr, M. L. (2012). Letter from Birmingham jail. Liberating Faith: Religious Voices for Justice, Peace, & Ecological Wisdom, 177-187.
Sawyers, J. (2013). Gospel of Freedom: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail and the Struggle That Changed a Nation. Booklist, (11). 20.
Vyas, R. (2013). Managing the Dimensions of Ethos, Pathos and Logos of Change Through Transformational Leadership. IUP Journal Of Soft Skills, 7(3), 7.