Martin Luther King’S I Have A Dream – One Of The Nation’S Most Iconic Speeches

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Prior to the 1960’s much had been written about the injustices that large segments of the population had endured especially black Americans. Being deprived meant inadequate or nonexistent access to inalienable rights guaranteed to all by the constitution. It was an American dream tarnished by years of indifference. Dr. Martin Luther King’s prominent entry into the discussion and debate marked a historic moment that gave hope to millions and became a galvanizing message that resonated across the ages. His speech, I have a dream is one of the nation’s most moving and consequential speeches. It illuminated the many ways that people of color endured injustice and segregation for a century following the Emancipation Proclamation. His motive was to ensure that all people would live in a country where all citizens would enjoy the rights and privileges granted under the constitution. It was his hope that a better Americans would evolve guaranteeing all Americans equal opportunity to access and enjoy the American dream.

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The March on Washington in 1963 was a combination of efforts over the years to allay the discomfort and frustration African Americans faced. Considering the majesty and power of the speech, it is evident that Martin Luther didn’t just get up one day and decide to do a speech in front of America. His speech expressed his deep thoughts and desire for equality for all man. His journey to the march on Washington on March 1963 started years before. In the 1950s as a young charismatic and activist he supported the civil rights movement by supporting the march on Washington in May 1957 organized by the National Association Advancement of Color People (NAACP) and the Southern Christian leadership Conference (SCLC). It drew 25,000 people, a smaller crowd than the organization had hoped for. However, in 1963 the violent attacks on civil rights demonstrators in Birmingham, built momentum for a large march on Washington. Martin Luther King led nonviolent conferences in the spring of that year on Birmingham Alabama, and with other civil right leaders planned a march on Washington in August 1963. It was at the march where he gave his most iconic speech, which changed the dimension of the civil rights movements forever.

Dr. King started his speech by establishing that this event, the March on Washington, would make history by being one of the greatest demonstrations for freedom. King made reference to President Lincoln signing the Declaration of Emancipation Proclamation, a document that made all men free, granting all citizens access to freedom and equality. This was a great segway for his audience to remind them that even though President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation declaring slaves free, they were still living a harsh reality of injustice and discrimination, completely opposite of the stated intent in the document. By using this example, he hoped to evoke an emotional response from the thousands of African Americans who still faced detrimental circumstances and lives circumscribed by intimidation. For example, Dr. King makes an emotional connection to his audience when he shared his dream of his four children living in a nation and not being judged by their physical characteristics but by their character. This resonated to the audience because any good parent would want a good future for their child. Especially living during these times. King was able to share his experience to help built his argument that there is still hope. Dr. King fought not only for blacks but for justice for all. Speaking to the crowd he made a solid point without using any anecdotes that would specifically aim at racism but gave his audience the freedom to make the connection and get the main point of what he was taking about. Dr. King used several calls to action in his speech by implementing a sense of urgency throughout his speech by referencing to the word “Now”. This emotional appeal was based on events that happened in his life. Dr. King connected with his audience in shared empathy for the treatment that many Blacks had been subjected to for decades.

Later, King connected with his audience through his use of facts and reasoning. By doing so he was able to make a strong rhetorical bond enabling his audience to draw claims based on the facts and the reasons behind them. Dr. King referred to the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence to develop his argument and present his case. His argument rested on the case that African American were guaranteed the same inalienable rights given to every citizen. Dr. King reasoned that the fight for justice was not an isolated fight but a fight for all men. Dr. King challenged his audience to understand that the fight for justice and anti-discrimination was a generational event that would benefit all generations to come. Dr. King vowed to never be satisfied until freedom is granted for all man. King’s idea behind his speech was a need for change within American society. Without change the Negro will not just stand and continue to be belittled but would be inclined to fight with determination: the same determination that brought them to the march. For example, Dr. King drew on the rights promised to all citizens in the constitution as he referenced the March on Washington as symbolizing African American’s marching to the nation capital to cash a check. A check that turned out to be empty, a check that was written by the architects of our land now fails to live up to the words in the constitution that all men are guaranteed the same unalienable rights. King made certain to include comments on the special efforts made by members of the audience to make it to the march. He added some of the hardship many went through, reassuring them that their fight for justice and freedom would not go in vain. His heartfelt voice rang out “No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream. ” By adding this religious allusion, he gave meaning to his life and it was meant to be meaningful to the lives of those there.

Ethos was an important component of King’s speech. He used his character to gain the trust of everyone who gathered to the march. Using credibility, authority and clear motives. Dr. King used his reputation as leverage to give his audience hope about the future. For example, Dr. King was a Baptist minister for six years at the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church and leader of SLCC and played a pivotal role for nonviolent protest. King used his background to rally the audiences support. When he appeals to them by saying “now is the time to make real the promises of the democracy, now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. ” This comment in the speech was an appeal to all Americans that the inalienable rights guaranteed in the constitution should be available to all citizens. Religion played an important part in his life and played an important role in his speech. During several moments of I have a dream speech, King use this occasion to bridge the gap and connect to his spiritual side alluding to biblical text. His morals were one of his key ingredients that he used to apply his beliefs of what the bible taught, “Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning”. King believed that trials and tribulations in life tested our beliefs knowing that having faith would deliver us. Dr. King then shared with his audience a dream for America, a dream that will live up to the words of the U. S Constitution, and a dream that will become a reality for the generations that came after him.

Dr. King changed the dynamic of the entire existence of what Americans thought was the American dream. His philosophy of what he had in mind for all citizens was to have a better understanding of the importance of brother hood and living as one. Using his words as a sword, a peaceful weapon that demanded equality moving forward. Spoke to his audience about the power of peaceful protesting, through his would showers the nation state by state with his determination, and self-confidence attitude, inspiring millions to continue fighting until there is change. He showered the nation state by state with his giving a prophetic claim to generations come to, that is now a testament for millions. Proving others that he had the same passion to make a difference embodying the true essence of hope. A hope that justice and equality will prevail regardless of the obstacles in their path. Dr. King delivered a speech for the ages. Using rhetorical devices logos, ethos and pathos, with strong imagery that reflected the overall message he wanted his audience to see.

31 October 2020

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