Martin Luther King gave great speeches in the 1960’s in America at a time of anti-discrimination on racial lines towards blacks, Asians and Hispanics. The famous speech I have a dream was given in 1963 at a time when there was great turbulence due to racial discrimination. He gave the speech to an audience of all races with majority of black and white people.
His speech I have a dream begins with a note of high positivism. It causes the crowd of people to be motivated about the changes that can happen in the future and not focus on the current happenings. He begins by saying the day marks a great day of demonstration of freedom in the history of America. To plead the black man’s case towards the white majority Luther mentioned Lincoln as a great American. He stresses that the black man is not free yet Lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation. The white people who greatly respected Lincoln were made to ponder the decisions and actions of the white majority. It made them remember that Lincoln had wanted the black men free and equality to prevail. He was able to identify with both races since he spoke of justice and also referred to one of the greatest American leaders at that time.
Luther then describes the state the black man is in. He keeps repeating the phrase one hundred years in the second paragraph three times. This emphasizes the length of the duration since Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation and yet no change had happened. He uses imagery a lot in order to show the severity and seriousness of the situation.
He says the black man is crippled, chained and mangled by segregation and discrimination. He sees the black man wallowing in poverty yet he is surrounded by the affluence of the white majority. He appeals to the white majority reminding them of the contents of the constitution and declaration of independence. Again he uses imagery to stress his point. He compares these two important documents to a promissory note to all Americans that in America there will be equality one day. He appeals to the humanity and emotions of the majority white using very important aspects of their present life and history. He states that the black people have been given a bad cheque. It reads insufficient funds. Every businessman knows how expensive it is to receive a cheque that bounces. There are charges levied by banks and an individual or business loses their reputation as a result. He uses a lot of metaphors comparing the sun and autumn to the period black men will get freedom. Justice is compared to a bank which cannot go bankrupt like other well known ordinary banks. Segregation is compared to a great dark and desolate valley.
He implores the black men to keep fighting until justice prevails. At the same time he reminds and stresses to the white man that there will be rest until justice is given to the black man. He is persuasive even to the white man as he tells him that his freedom will only come when the black’s man freedom is given since their destinies are entwined. He makes the black man hunger for the day of freedom. He emphasizes in the last part of his speech the phrase I have a dream.
He makes the people anticipate change and the glorious things it represents. He was able to persuade the black men not to use violence in fighting for freedom. He encouraged them. He actually calls the act of meeting physical force with will power a majestic height. At the same time he does not in any way promote white hatred in spite of what has happened. He tells the blacks that they should not mistrust the white people. He sees the good in the dire circumstances and encourages the black man not to have any negativity.
He actually calls the white new militancy as marvelous yet it has really hurt the black people (Pages, 2010). It has been aggressive and combative but he tells the black not to fight physically but with their spirits and minds. Martin Luther King was a courageous man. He was confident and a fighter. He was also an optimistic and forgiving man. This is shown when he encourages the black men that they should not be bitter or hateful towards the white majority. He was a man of peace. He advocated for peace. He also loved democracy and advocating for human rights. He was a highly intelligent and wise man able to communicate peace to both sides of the population. He was a peacemaker able to move both the whites and blacks to desiring a better future (Nicole, 2010). He presented great logical arguments that were true. Until there was equality and justice in America, the black man would indeed not rest. The laws by which the country operated with were not being adhered to since the constitution advocated for the rights of all the people not just the white majority. He also advocated for peaceful demonstration saying violence will not bring any results. This was true since his speech led the way to the Civil Rights Act in 1964.
Pages, Pensive. A Few Rhetorical Devices in the “I Have a Dream” Speech. 2010, Web.
Smith, Nicole. Rhetoric and Martin Luther King Jr. “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” and “I Have a Dream”. 2010, Web.