Martin “I Have A Dream” was delivered by King

Martin Luther King Jr. delivered many speeches, but none were as powerful as “I Have a Dream”. “I Have A Dream” was delivered by King on August, 1963 at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. In his legendary rhetoric, King motivates his followers to continue boycotting and demonstrating despite “great trials and tribulation” and demands racial justice. To do this, he utilizes repetition, imagery, history, and rhetorical appeals. King uses rhetorical appeals to draw the listener in, he begins by appealing to ethos. “Five score years ago, a great American in whose symbolic shadow we stand today signed the Emancipation Proclamation.” After hearing this line, Abraham Lincoln is immediately evoked in our minds. King makes an obvious reference to the Gettysburg Address that begins with “Four score and seven years ago”. When he references a symbolic shadow, he means it literally because he is standing at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. King draws on Lincoln’s reputation to express his outrage on society and give himself authoritative appeal in his argument. One of the greatest presidents, Lincoln, signed the Emancipation Proclamation that was a “great beacon of hope” and “one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free”.King is reminding the crowd of the hope that came with the end of slavery and how one hundred years later, they still are not free. He is pointing out the contrast between expectations and harsh reality, nothing has changed. King continues to build ethos by citing even more historical documents, The Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. He says ” This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the ‘unalienable Rights’ of ‘Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.’ It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned.” King, again, is outlining the hypocrisy of a “free” America and pointing out that the very foundation of our country is freedom for all men. As if those documents weren’t enough, the Bible is also used, emphasizing the idea that racism is a moral problem. King utilizes his authority as a reverend to deliver his borrowed ethos. “…we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands…”. King alludes the Bible (Galatians 3:28) to reassure to his audience that God’s will is unity. Dr. King’s use of logos is less common in his speech, but still noteworthy. King uses logos to provide his audience with facts and logical reasoning. King says “The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.” King reminds the his audience that even though they are fighting white institutionalized racism, they have allies who realize the importance of their struggle and are standing with them to fight against injustice. He continues by saying “We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, ‘When will you be satisfied?’ We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality”. Here, King is telling the crowd that now is not a time to turn back, they need to finish what they started because if they don’t nothing will change.


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