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Letters From a Birmingham Jail, Annotated Bibliography Example

Pages: 3

Words: 794

Annotated Bibliography

Bass, Jonathan S. Blessed Are the Peacemakers: Martin Luther King, Jr., Eight White Religious Leaders, and the »Letter from Birmingham Jail.« Baton Rouge, LA: LSU Press, 2001.

Bass offers a thorough historical account of King’s composition of his famous letter. Without an understanding of the precise historical conditions that led to King writing the text, its true meaning cannot be unpacked. This is a valuable work, therefore, for establishing the context of the letter’s composition as well as content.

Branch, Taylor. Parting the Waters: American in the King Years, 1954-63. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1989.

This text provides a greater overview of the Civil Rights movement in general. At the same time, it offers valuable insights into the history behind the letter itself. Namely, Branch notes that the Letter was essentially a private correspondence, which took time to register a greater social impact. The slow development of the Letter’s influence lends insight into the strategies of the Civil Rights movement itself, as well as those of the forces that opposed Davidson, L. “What Happened to Civil Rights?” Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 2006. 11-14.

The author takes a contemporary look at civil rights issues. Davidson attempts to show how many of the demands King has made in the letter from Birmingham remain unfulfilled. Insofar as King’s Birmingham actions are historically viewed as a great success, Davidson’s text provides a valuable contribution to show that the civil rights project remains unfinished.

Dear S.J., John. “King’s ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail’ Still Challenges Us.” National Catholic Reporter. January 11, 2011.

The author provides a personal reflection on King’s letter. As a Catholic, he situates King’s commentary within a Christian context, thus suggesting that King’s discourse represented a commitment to Christian principles. The author thus opens the question of how segregation and racism could so peacefully co-exist alongside Christianity in American culture.

Fulkerson, Richard P. “The Public Letter as a Rhetorical Form: Structure, Logic and Style in King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” Quarterly Journal of Speech. Volume 65, Issue 2, 1979. 121-136.

The text presents a view of King’s letter in terms of its mastery of rhetorical persuasion. Accordingly, Fulkerson places a pronounced emphasis on not only the content of King’s writing, but also its form. The picture that arises from the article is that of King as a brilliant rhetorician, without any negative sense to the term.

George, Robert P. »Natural Law and Civil Rights: From Jefferson’s Letter to Henry Lee to Martin Luther King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail.« Catholic University Law Review 143, 1993-1994.

George presents an argument in which he situates King’s letter within a similar tradition of American political letter-writing. Furthermore, he places King’s letter within the context of the debate in legal philosophy between natural law proponents and the legal positivists. From George’s text we therefore situate King’s letter in both a greater historical narrative, as well as a philosophy of law context.

Johnson, Davi. »Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 Birmingham Campaign as Image Event.« Rhetoric & Public Affairs, Volume 10, Number 1, 2007. 1-25.

Johnson uses the concept of the »image event« created by the theorist Kevin DeLuca to analyze King’s actions in Birmingham. Hence, Johnson attempts to show that King’s prison letter were not the dominant factor in the successes of his campaign, but rather his usage of television and photographic images. The text therefore takes a more broader view of King’s general rhetorical strategies, situating the letter within this context.

Luther King, Martin. Letter from the Birmingham Jail. Toronto: Harper Collins Canada, 1994.

King’s text provides his thoughts on the civil rights movement and the necessity for America to move away from its racist past. King offers a progressive view of racial relations that sets the framework for contemporary changes. Written under the duress of confinement, the text provides a clear and elegant synopsis of his worldview.

Oppenheimer, David Benjamin. “Martin Luther King, Walker v. City of Birmingham, and the Letter from Birmingham Jail.” U.C. Davis Law Review, Volume 26, Number 4, Summer 1993. 791-800.

Oppenheimer takes a legal approach of the circumstances that landed King in prison in Birmingham. The author provides a history of segregation law operative in Birmingham at the time of King’s incarceration. Through Oppenheimer’s account we can learn both the reasons why King landed in jail, and the legal machinery he struggled against. Accordingly, from this perspective the letter becomes a certain critique of this legal apparatus.

Shores Lee, Helen & Shores, Barbara S. “Arthur Shores, Martin Luther King Jr. and The Story of the Letter from the Birmingham Jail.” The Huffington Post. August 30, 2012.

This concise article provides valuable information on how the letter reached the public during King’s incarceration. Shores tells the story of how the smuggled pieces of paper bore King’s script, allowing him communication with the outside world. The article provides the necessary historical framework for the letter’s composition.

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