Purposeful main idea of this part? What is the

Purposeful Structure in King’s Letter

Recall
the writing prompt for this unit:

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What makes King’s “Letter from Birmingham
Jail” powerful and effective? After reading King’s letter, answer the
question by analyzing how he uses structure and language
purposefully in his text. Provide specific examples from the text to support
your analysis.

Your study of
structure in this assignment will begin to help you answer this question and
respond to the prompt later in the unit.

Using what you learned in the lesson, complete the following chart and
respond to the analysis questions in complete sentences. Some parts of the
chart are already completed for you. Use the activities from the lesson to help
you complete the rest of the chart.

Part from “Letter from Birmingham Jail”

What is the main
idea of this part?

What is the tone
of this paragraph?

What does King
hope to accomplish with this part?

How is it
connected to the ideas before or after it?

Heading

The heading shows that King is in jail.

Not applicable

He hopes to show the injustice of the situation.

Not applicable

Greeting

King addresses “fellow clergymen.”

Kind

He shows that he is also a clergyman and that he considers
himself a part of the group he is addressing.

The entire letter is written to the clergymen who criticized
King for taking action.

Paragraph 1

 When King addresses his point about pausing to answer disapproval
about his working and his ideas. He clarifies that he will not let
interruptions stand in his way or his work.

Patient

 He hopes to clarify that he rarely stops to accept disapproval
from others about his work in the community and his ideas that carry along
with that.

It’s asserting his reason for responding to the clergymen in the
matter that he did, signifying his care for others.

Paragraph 2

The steps that King and others have taken to try to end
discrimination and the reason for choosing Birmingham as the site for their
protest

Factual

 He wants to let the clergymen understand that he was arrested
for being involved in a nonviolent action protest, not a heinous crime.

 He had no intention of bringing hostility, but rather harmony
among others.

Paragraph 3

 King was obliged to carry
the gospel of freedom beyond his own home town
and respond to the Macedonian call for aid, like how Jesus did.

Passionate

He shows how foolish it is for the clergymen to say “wait” for
change. He shows that change must happen soon.

 He is there to allow those who don’t have a voice to have
a voice in this situation.

Paragraph 4

It’s not essential for people to treat their counterparts like
outsiders, even though we live in the same country, taking up the same amount
of space as one another.

 Factual

 He hopes to show everyone that no one should be separated
from the rest of society and no one should face any kind of injustice.

 People aren’t treated equally in a nation where people should
be treated equally and together as one nation under God.

Paragraph 5

 King believes in peace and its benefit for all races but is restricted due to the city’s white
power structure.

 Factual

 He would like to proceed further with his campaign, but
without courage and support from his followers, he is unable to advance.

Segregation can only be put to an end if persuasive influential people
stood aside King and endorsed his campaign.

Paragraph 6

 The white supremacy refused King’s request to be heard on
problems many times, even if the discussion was more than peaceful.

 Factual

 He hopes to show the people how the words of the colored
race brought zero significance to the non-colored race.

 King is stuck in a position where he has support, but needs
to be heard in a larger forum to receive the bigger audience but is not given
that opportunity

Paragraph 7

By fighting racial injustice, we are not causing problems,
rather we are revealing the problem.

 Patient

He wants to remind the pastors that he and other activists are
not causing problems by protesting; instead, they are revealing the problems
in society.

No matter what form the truth is in, it is always best to let it
free in peace, rather than angering rage.

Paragraph 8

For enduring many postponements with the mayoral election, demonstration
action was going to be taken and waiting any longer was not tolerated.

 Passionate

 He wants to use this
program in order to expose the voting parties to the truth and allow for them to see what’s outside of the bubble they’ve
been kept in.

Whether it’s a sign or a
figure of speech, any power that is convincing to the people is worth more
than not having a say in the matter altogether,

Paragraph 9

 Direct action is used to promote negotiation, and to retreat
out of the position of living in monologue rather than dialogue.

 Factual

 His matter of the nonviolent
direct action is to create a scenario of a major crisis that the community
runs away from, rather than confront directly, and King wants to dramatize
the issue, so it is viewed upfront rather than tossed away and never thought
of.

 The program is delivered in a time-sensitive matter rather
than being kept away from the public and delayed indefinitely.

Paragraph 10

The Church used to speak up and cause society to change, but now
it accepts injustice and does not fight for others.

 Factual

 He hopes to achieve progression in the civil rights
movement with the new Birmingham administration, without causing more legal
pressure than there has already been.

The paragraph before it is also about the inaction of the
current church.

Paragraph 11

 Justice that has been denied has been delayed for too long
which has resulted in the oppressor not giving freedom, with the oppressed
demanding.

Reflective

 He hopes to reach a point in his yet to exist direct
action campaign which will further into the segregation that is taking place,
and turning the wait into action rather than delay.

It is a new thought reflecting on the length of the letter and
signaling the close of the text.

Paragraph 12

 Laws have been avoided for far too long, and it is time to
stop the spread of segregation and stick to the Supreme Court’s decision of outlawing
segregation in the public schools.

 Factual

 King hopes to stop the segregation once and for all, especially
for the children and for them to have a better future than being disrespected
and fighting a sense of nobodiness.

 The oppressor not being involved and rather depriving the community
of what they deserve is a primary cause of
why the colored public can’t get one day without facing judgment.

Closing

He hopes that the pastors will join his cause and change
society.  

 Passionate

 He hopes that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will pass
by as if they never existed, and those affected will receive a clean slate
and finally the respect that they deserve.

 Those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation
will lastly have a chance to make the world a better place, and to be
considered one of them by others.

 

Analysis
Questions

1.      Complete the
following sentence.

The purpose of
King’s letter is to cause a peaceful retaliation to fight back against the discriminating
acts of segregation.

What is the relationship between the
underlined sentence and the bolded sentences?

In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: (1) Collection of the
facts to determine whether injustices are alive; (2) Negotiation; (3)
Self-purification; and (4) Direct action. We have gone through all of these
steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying of the fact that racial
injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham
is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly
record of police brutality is known in every section of this country. Its
unjust treatment of Negroes in the courts is a notorious reality. There have
been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than any
city in this nation. These are the hard, brutal, and unbelievable
facts. On the basis of these conditions
Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the political
leaders consistently refused to engage in good faith negotiation.

Response: The relationship is seen through the underlined sentence where the main
problem is defined, and the bolded then takes the main problem and breaks it
down into detailed specifics relating to racial injustice.

2.      What is the
purpose of the sentence “These are the hard, brutal, and unbelievable
facts” in the following paragraph?

In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: (1) Collection of the
facts to determine whether injustices are alive; (2) Negotiation; (3)
Self-purification; and (4) Direct action. We have gone through all of these
steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying of the fact that racial
injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly
segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of police brutality is
known in every section of this country. Its unjust treatment of Negroes in the
courts is a notorious reality. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro
homes and churches in Birmingham than any city in this nation. These are the hard, brutal, and
unbelievable facts. On the basis of these conditions Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers.
But the political leaders consistently refused to engage in good faith
negotiation.

Response: Its purpose is to emphasize even
further the treatment that the African Americans have faced in Birmingham along
the lines of segregation.

 

For questions 4-6, reread the following
paragraphs from King’s letter, paying attention to the way that he structures
his ideas.

Paragraph 9 of 12

I have travelled the length and
breadth of Alabama, Mississippi and all
the other southern states. On sweltering summer days and crisp autumn mornings I have looked at her beautiful
churches with their spires pointing heavenward. I have beheld the impressive
outlay of her massive religious education buildings. Over and over again I have
found myself asking: “Who worships here? Who is their God? Where were
their voices when the lips of Governor Barnett dripped with words of
interposition and nullification? Where were their voices of support when tired,
bruised, and weary Negro men and women decided to rise from the dark dungeons
of complacency to the bright hills of creative protest?” 

Paragraph 10 of 12

There was a time when the Church was very powerful … In those days the
Church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of
popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society.
Wherever the early Christians entered a town the power structure got disturbed
and immediately sought to convict them for being “disturbers of the
peace” and “outside agitators.” Things are different now. The
contemporary Church is so often a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain
sound. It is so often the arch-supporter of the status quo. Far from being
disturbed by the presence of the Church, the power structure of the average
community is consoled by the Church’s silent and often vocal sanction (approved
action) of things as they are. 

4.      In a complete
sentence, state the main idea of each paragraph (paragraphs 9 and 10). The main idea is King having to clarify repeatedly
that the Birmingham church has abandoned its people who have been tackled by severe
racism, and are pleading for their own freedom.

5.      In a complete
sentence, state the purpose of each paragraph (paragraphs 9 and 10). The purpose is proving how the church used to
treat its people, and how a few members of opposing leadership can contribute
to the decline in treatment to the point where many had life scarring outcomes.

6.      What is the
effect of making these points in the order King has chosen? Respond in two to four
sentences. The points King has chosen specifically
highlight how bad segregation within the church had gotten, and what he wanted
to change in order to make it welcoming for everybody. The words and details he
chose targeted certain groups within the oppressors that have caused such a
downfall, and he will not back down until he is seen fairly. Not only will his
points affect the officials, it will also speak to those who have faced such
awful treatment, and will cause them to stand up and fight for what is right, standing
next to King and his dreams of a better reunion within the community. Those who
have been closed-eye and minded will finally have a reason to take part in what
is being done to better their future, and allowing them to fix the unfair
treatment will allow for the city to come together in unity and shake hands on
what is truly fair.