Analysis ofMartin Luther King Jr’s Speech
Analysis ofMartin Luther King Jr’s Speech
In 1963, Martin Luther King Jr gave the so-called “I have a dream”speech from the steps of Abraham Lincoln Memorial. The speech iscited to be one of the best speeches ever given in American history(Addis, 2014). King called for action against racial discriminationand injustices to the Blacks in American schools, hotels and publicinstitutions. He gave the speech solely because the rights of theblack people were violated through discrimination, inequality andracism. The central message was to assert that all men were createdequal and even if inequality persisted he had a dream that one daythe black people would be granted freedom.
Contextof the Event
The speech was delivered to the American people at a time when manycivil rights movements took place across America. There were manydemonstrations in the streets of New York, Chicago, Texas with peopleadvocating for equal rights for the Blacks. The historical backgroundof the speech is mainly the Gettysburg Address, the Bible and theDeclaration of Independence. The speaker alluded to the three textsin his speech calling for action to grant the Negros the freedom andequality they deserved. King aimed at arousing the emotions of theevent attendees and reach out to the lawmakers, the government andthe American people at large. The structure of the speech was simplewith the first half portraying the American dream that had beendestroyed by racial injustices while the second part described adream of a better future (King & Nelson, 2012).
The author adopted several stylistic devices including the use ofbiblical language, imagery, rhythm and repetition. Firstly, King usedthe biblical language by taking a commanding voice that inspiredthousands of people in the same manner he did as a Baptist preacher.He created a preacher-like drama that successfully brought passion tothe speech. Secondly, the speaker employed rhythm and repetition withrepeated phrases such as “now is the time” and “we can never besatisfied.” The use of repetition in his speech enabled King toachieve his goals of calling for a change in the American society.Lastly, he employed alliteration by repeating the phrase, “let thefreedom ring” in the second half of the speech (King & Nelson,2012). It is clear that the speech was targeted at multiple audiencesbecause he referred to the black men and the black people. The whitepeople were important to the speaker since there were the only oneswho could have made his dream come true. In other words, only thewhite officials and lawmakers could have brought justice to theNegros by formulating laws of equality.
Successof the Event
The Washington rally succeeded because King created a mood thatuncovered the guilt that haunted the white men and women for theirdiscriminative actions for centuries. He also achieved the mainpurpose of the speech, which was to appeal to the whites to stopracism and give hope to the blacks that the chains of discriminationwere to be broken in the future. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 wasenacted the same year Martin Luther gave his speech and, this was aresult of such an address to the public. The speaker used bodylanguage and emotional appeals to send his message to the people whoattended the rally and the world, as well. He delivered the speechwith a high-pitched voice while raising his hand like a preacher, astyle he used in his preaching career (Konurbaev, 2016).
“I have a dream” speech seems to be an emotional sermon that wasused to appeal to the whites to bring equality to the black peoplerather than a political address that would have resulted into chaoticdemonstrations. Martin Luther took a relatively different approachfrom the other activists and used the art of preaching to fight forthe rights of the black people. The speaker had done extensiveresearch before composing the speech because he used texts from theBible and the Declaration of Independence. The artfulness andexactness of the speaker during the delivery of the speech helped himin sending the desired message to the right people and achieve hisgoals, as well. This has taught me that you should not give updespite the past failures and you can only achieve your goals if youcommunicate your dreams to the people in the right way just as MartinLuther did during the rally.
Addis, F. (2014). I Have A Dream: The Speeches That ChangedHistory.London: Michael O` Mara Books.
King, M.L. & Nelson, K. (2012). I have a dream. New York:Schwartz & Wade Books.
Konurbaev, M. E. (2016). Style and timbre of English speech andliterature. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.