Why King is the King

“Injustice anywhere is threat to justice everywhere.” This is an extremely powerful quote. It can only have been written about a subject the writer is passionate about. Passion: it’s one of the greatest tools you can have as a writer. When you have passion and thoroughly believe in the subject you write about, you unconsciously increase your credibility and thus increase your chances of prompting change.

Let’s go back to that opening quote. It was written by Martin Lither King, Jr. in “Open Letter to Birmingham Jail” (read it here: http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/index.php/resources/article/annotated_letter_from_birmingham/ ). King is one the best speakers of all time. His famous speech “I Have A Dream” is still greatly admired today and used influentially to this day. The main reason King was rhetorically effective in his speaking and writing efforts was because of his immense passion. “Injustice anywhere is threat to justice everywhere.” In this quote and much others like it you can here his voice. When I read it I can picture King standing at his podium, slamming his fist on it, echoing throughout the room, booming with passion.

Passion comes from within, from yourself. The only way to effectively create passion and enthusiasm in a subject is to put yourself in your writing. King constantly spoke and wrote from the heart. He dug deep into the caverns of his feelings and beliefs and spilled it all in the page. This above all is why I believe people listened to King.

People want to listen to others who believe what they’re saying. No one would have followed King if he didn’t put 100% of his heart and soul into his work. Even though he is extremely logical—maybe even more so than passionate—it doesn’t compete with the effect that being passionate gives. To me the most effective parts of the letter are two paragraphs: the one on page 3 that starts with “We have waited” and the one on the last page that started with “I wish you had commented”. Both of these paragraphs are dripping with pathos and emotional appeal. He becomes so passionate that he reverts to a stream-of-consciousness structure that is mostly used in speeches.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a fantastic writer and even better speaker. He was a successful preacher and a passionate leader. He believed in his movement more than anything else. When he put these beliefs in to speaking and writing, you just have to listen.

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