Martin Luther King’s Persuasion Techniques

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Born on January 1929, Martin Luther king. Jnr   was an activist, Americans clergyman and prominent leader in Africa- American civil right movements. He is well known for being iconic figure in advancement of the civil rights in US and across the world. This way the king is usually presented as heroic leader in history of the modern American liberalism. As a pastor in the Baptist church of the b     Montgomery, king lead   black bus boycott that led to his arrest   along side other nine other activists for illegally obstructing business operations. As the court case of the bus boycott went by, the king earned himself national and international recognitions that ultimately made him a national hero. In 1963, martin Luther wrote a letter entitled “letter from Birmingham jail” which inspired many growing national civil right movements in Birmingham. The main aim of the letter was to end the systems of segregation in each aspect of public life, such as stores, no separate drinking fountains and bathrooms among others and in discrimination on jobs. To achieve the goal of convincing his followers, Dr. King employed several techniques some of which had been sued by his hero’s such as Mohandas Gandhi, Bayard Rustin among others. As indicated on the “Proofs Sheet” some of rhetoric techniques used included the non-violent activism and the element of sense of purpose to carry out his work. In support to the Kings effort to end racial discrimination in Alabama,   the clergy issued “an appeal for law and order and common sense “in January 1963. The clergy were useful as they helped to enforce the request made by the king to end on racial discriminations especially in Birmingham. However, their critics were driven by the fact that, they were faced by series of demonstrations from the Negros citizens that were led and directed in part by the outsiders. This was due to the fact that, most people felt their hopes were slow n being realized thus making the non violent means of solving the crises, which was emphasized by martin Luther, an in appropriate means of solving the crises.  This paper will critically analyze Martin Luther Kings non-violent and sense of purpose techniques, used to convince his audience on his position.

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Non –Violent activism

Non-violent activism is the general philosophy of abstaining from any form of violence due to the religious or moral principles as those held by Martin Luther. He non-violent means such as peaceful demonstrations and boycotts are used to achieve social and political changes. In many part of the world, such as America India among others, the non-violent activism was also referred to as civil resistance as participants engaged ion activities as civil disobedience, critical forms of persuasions and education among others.  It is clear that, Dr. King was a compassionate, warm, honest, wise individual who had clear self-definition, internal balance among other virtues, thus making it hard for us to appreciate the level of his greatness even at the current times. He was loved by oppressed and despised by those people who opposed his ideologies. He made oppressed feel they were not alone and gave them hope, friendship as well as understanding to his opponents.

His vision had spanned the entire human conduct and had strength full of humility among other virtues. To perpetuate his ideologies to the audience, the king employed the technique used by his predecessors such as Gandhi of non violent resistance. “When the protest began, my minds unconsciously or consciously were driven back to sermon on the Mount as well as Gandhian method of non-violent resistant”. During his visit to India  in 1959, where Luther visited  Gandhi’s birth place  the king  deepened his understanding  of the non-violent resistances as well as his commitment to the Americans struggles for civil rights. In the letter to his fellow clergymen, the king highlighted for basic steps, which were useful to achieve non-violent campaigns. These were collection of facts in determining whether injustice exists, self-purification, negotiations and direct actions. Having gone through all the above steps, Dr. King noted, “Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in united state where the ugly records of brutality is widely known……” The king pointed out that, the hopes for non-violent approach had been blasted in several occasions in several instances and shadows of the deep disappointments settled upon them. The king began series of workshops on non- violent approach where the blacks asked tem selves:” Are you able to accept blows without relenting”.

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This prompted the king to schedule direct action programs for Easter seasons. This was in view that the direct action would have resulted to strong economic withdrawal program as a result of the direct actions thus being the best time to demand for the much needed change.  By employing the non violent technique, it was able for direct actions to create crisis thus fostering tension   that community which had refused to negotiate was forced to confront the issue. The king categorically indicated that, he was opposed to violent tension but embraced non-violent tension tat was necessary for the growth of United State. The king accused the clergymen for speaking about his non violent activities in Birmingham as being extreme. “At first I was dissapointed that fellow clergymen would see my non –violent efforts as those of an extremist.”

The clergymen had almost started to advocate for violent activism that was highly against Kings Ideologies. By stressing on the importance on non-violent activism, the clergy were able to understand its importance in bringing social and political change not only in Birmingham but also to the entire United States. Hey pointed out that, violence and hatred had no sanction in political and religious traditions and it would not be able to resolve the local problems, which were facing the Negro community in US.

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Sense of purpose technique

Sense of purpose is a virtue that is crucial in streamlining ones goals and objectives, thus being able to attain the desired results. With clear sense of purpose, it is possible to attain the clarity desired for one to become motivated thus becoming essay to attain the desired results. Having a clear sense of purpose for Martin Luther was an important aspect that enabled him to easily attract and convince his audience on his position as far as activism was concerned. For example, in the letter addressed to the clergymen, the king was convinced that if   the white brothers dismiss as the “outside agitators” and “rabble-rousers” those who employs non-violent direct actions, millions of Negros,   would seek security and solace in the Black Nationalist ideologies. This would have developed frustrations thus becoming hard to achieve the desired results. 

The King was also convinced that, all people regardless of their race must follow Jesus example of being extreme lovers. “Love your enemies, do good to those that hate you, bless them that curse, pray for those who despise you and persecute you…”The king was also convinced that the letter he wrote to the clergymen would found them in strong faith. He also believed that, the dark clouds of racial prejudice would soon pass away, and deep fog of misunderstanding be lifted from fear trenched communities. He further believed that, radiant stars of love as well as brotherhood would shine over the great nation with their scintillating beauty.

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As indicated by the clergy on their letter to Dr. King, the sense of purpose possed by Luther, Jnr. was crucial as it helped them to preach on peace. Due to this, the urged the Negro community to  pull out  of demonstrations and unite locally in working for a  better peaceful Birmingham and negotiations with the local leaders  to be carried out on courts and not  on the streets. Thus, the clergy encouraged both the Negro and white citizenry to clearly observe principles of law and order along with common sense.


It is evident that Martin Luther king was one of the visionary leaders of 20th century, who fought for the rights of the oppressed, the weak and oppressed in the society. In the modern times, the sense of purpose in fighting the modern forms of oppression such as job discrimination, which were highly been advocated for by our ancestors such as Dr. King, have been neglected. This has resulted to modern forms of slavery thus leading to slower levels of integration in the current global village thus resulting to reduced growth.

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