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Martin Luther King Jr. was a social rights activist, Baptist minister, and a well-known leader for the American Civil Rights movement during 1955-1968. Martin Luther King makes a speech regarding the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The Montgomery Bus Boycott was a 13-month long protest that ended segregated seating. King was furious about the racial injustice and inequality towards African Americans in United States of America at the time. In his speech, he addresses the audience by starting off mentioning the leading arrest of Rosa Parks for her courageous act for not giving up her seat to a white man in Alabama. She violated the city’s racial segregation rules that stated blacks had to give up their seats to white riders if the front seats were full. Parks stood for her integrity and knew what was right. The civil rights movement was a big part of the 1950s through the 1960’s and was a massive success due to the nonviolent protest for equality. This was a time of devastating effects of racism and for the first time ever African Americans were taking on more leadership roles than ever before in history. King successfully uses the appeal of pathos, logos, and ethos to call all people to stand up for their equal rights and use nonviolent resistance to overcome injustice in the United States.
King uses the appeal of pathos to help support his point that African Americans were not seen the same as the white majority. He states “On so many occasions, Negroes have been intimidated and humiliated and impressed because of the sheer fact that they were Negroes” (Foner 268). This states the sad fact that inequality was everywhere specifically for the race of African Americans. This causes the reader to feel sympathy for the unfairness the African Americans faced. They encountered prejudice, discrimination, death threats, criticism, legal prosecution and violence. Not only did they face discrimination on the buses, but they also faced inequality in places like their jobs, schools, or even where they could eat. African Americans were “separate but equal” yet they still faced prejudice in their everyday lives. The unfairness of how African American were being treated compared to dominate race of White supremacy was breaking apart America. Many frustrated and angry emotions resulted in rallies. Rallies was the result of the buildup of inequality African Americans were fighting to gain basic and equal human rights. Since history demonstrates that races were not treated the same, it wasn’t that easy for many African Americans to gain these basic rights. In fact, many, if not all, were afraid to defend themselves against a white man fearing that they will get arrested or harmed. Many were arrested due to unfair or false accusations against black Americans at the time. Many dealt with their lives continuously threatened. Since white people had authority over blacks, there was an obvious supremacy among Americans. All of the inequality in America lead Martin Luther King to demonstrate, preach, and teach the opposite of violence and that was nonviolence protesting.
King uses the appeal of logos to inform all Americans of his idea of nonviolence protests. There were many violent protests with citizens and police to the extent of people being hospitalized, King took on the act of preaching nonviolent protests. He claimed “violent words and disobedience leads to nothing” (Foner 269). This helps describe the violence being useless in society. This may give the reader a better understanding of the inhumanity that is is happening in America. Instead of going around and destroying things, members of the movement rallied in churches in protest of discrimination. Both his Christian faith and his peaceful teachings enacted from Gandhian principles, inspired nonviolent protests. His strong, assertive words spoke to people, urging them to take action. King led the Montgomery Bus Boycott, forbidding people to ride city buses to stand up for their equality. Because of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the civil rights movement was encouraging to some Americans. Some Americans at the time just wanted peace. King wanted the Supreme Court to acknowledge that segregation in public transportation was unconstitutional regardless of the “separate but equal”. The rise of civil rights advocates had a strong effect on the nation. After a long struggle, the U.S. Supreme Court declared the bus company’s segregation seating policy unconstitutional under the 14th amendment. Nonviolent gestures overall helped mend America into one. It was a historical time period for the civil rights movement. The status, rights, and opportunities of Afro Americans were questioned for the first time ever because of the courageous act of King’s nonviolent protests.
King uses the appeal of ethos to show that he is a reliable source. “The Montgomery Improvement association (MIA) coordinated the boycott, and its president, Martin Luther King, Jr., became a prominent civil rights leader as international attention focused on Montgomery” (“Montgomery Bus Boycott”). This quote shows that he is a trustworthy, honorable source as a president for the Montgomery Improvement Association and civil rights leader. King’s movement for racial justice and nonviolent protests helped to see protests in a new light. This helps convince the reader that his firsthand knowledge is reliable.
In conclusion, Martin Luther King Jr. was overall strong leader who stood up for what he believed in and laid the foundations for the rights of everyone. I agree with him to a full extent because his dedication allowed pathways for many African Americans in the United States. The year 1950, was a time when African Americans had no say so and it was courageous of him to make a change for America and the future generations. King successfully uses the appeals to communicate the issue of inequality. His tone is very powerful, strong, and hopeful towards the audience. King uses instill hope for the African Americans to be seen as one. Kings nonviolent direct action helped work to overturn systematic segregation and racism. His tactics from the civil rights movement allowed pathways for many blacks across America.
- Foner, Eric. Voices of Freedom: a Documentary History. W.W. Norton & Company, 2017.
- “Montgomery Bus Boycott.” The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute, 30 May 2019, kinginstitute.stanford.edu/encyclopedia/montgomery-bus-boycott.
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