Tone of “Letter from Birmingham Jail” and ” I have a Dream” speech

Tone of “Letter from Birmingham Jail” and ” I have a Dream” speech.

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Martin Luther King Jr., author of “Letter from Birmingham Jail” and “I have a dream,” was the most inspirational leader in American history. The rhetoric produced by King in both pieces of literature appeals to the common audience in many ways. His writings are full of the power of expression, and his implied tone manipulated several activists to put their efforts together for the common objective (condemning prejudice and racism).

In paragraph 6-8 in the letter from Birmingham Jail, King has a passionate tone. He takes an emotional standpoint and urges the audience with the experiences African-American face directly and displays his passion for their struggle. King also had a passionate tone in his speech while talking about freedom from the segregation. He mentioned his children a lot, showing that this issue is very real to him. He creates a very optimistic mood, making audience feel that they can make a difference in the fight for equality.

“I have a dream” is an inspirational speech to African-Americans to realize and unite against civil rights discrimination. The tone adopted in the speech is slightly different from the letter’s style as he spoke to a huge crowd of his fellow caste, facing the same disregard for civil rights as the letter. In his speech, King emphasizes on prevalent religious ambiguity towards equity for black Americans as second-class citizens in the American dream. Hence, the country and the authorities (white people) want to utilize their capabilities (Negro Slaves), but do not want to accept their birthright to freedom and equality. His tone was firm, and his confidence was steadfast. King adapted a preach-like style to inspire his audience as preachers were considered the most empathetic leaders at that time. The bold statements and rhyme repetitions in the speech made it more fanatical.

“The Negro Community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brother, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize their destiny is tied up with our destiny.” One could observe that the speech was not against white people, but only against those who denied the rights of African Americans. his tone is gender inclusive. Thus, the motivational leader, who had been facing prejudice from white people all his life, respected the racist nation. The intelligent and wise leader realized that not all white people had the same set of minds. The rhetoric of the speech signifies the moral aspect of the government’s exploitation of African Americans.

Both letter and speech contained a demand for equal civil rights by the authorities. In the letter, King speaks like a preacher and adopts a straight tone. Yet, in the speech, his tone is more persuasive and benevolent. “Letter from Birmingham Jail” is a reaction to the imprisonment of nonviolent protestor and “I have a Dream” is a rational response to the mutual cause of freedom and equality.

Tone of “Letter from Birmingham Jail” and ” I have a Dream” speech.

Rodiesha Cox
ENC 1101