Rhetorical Analysis Of Martin Luther King's Speech

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During the 20th century, racism was a very large issue in America. Abraham Lincoln had freed all the slaves by issuing the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863; however, that did not get rid of the large amount of segregation and violence towards black Americans. During the Civil Rights Movement, that started in 1954, there were many African American activists fighting for freedom and equality. The most significant of these activists was Martin Luther King, Jr. One of King’s most influential speeches, I Have A Dream, was delivered during one of the largest rallies of the Civil Rights Movement, The March on Washington. King’s main purpose in this speech was to convince all of America to stand up against injustice and fight for the freedoms that…show more content…
He wanted to speak to Afican Americans to inspire them to spark a change in the nation. During one point in his speech he said, “We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now… Now is the time to lift our nation… now is the time to make justice a reality.” He gave them hope, encouraged them to act now, and showed empathy towards them by using pronouns like “we” and “our” while speaking, making his speech more personal. Even though a lot of the people listening were black Americans and supported equality and integration, there were also people on the other side of the spectrum listening who believed in segregation and white supremacy to be true. King’s words spoke to these people by describing to them how badly black people were being treated and the sacrifices they were being forced to make by saying, “The life of the Negro is still crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.” To explain further, King uses the metaphor, “America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked ‘insufficient…show more content…
He used cadence to keep his audience engaged and attentive to the words he spoke. This is another reason why his speech was so effective. He talked slowly to let the words sink in. When he came to an important topic or phrase, he would repeat himself and raise his voice to prove the importance of his words. One phase he said over and over again was “I have a dream...” He repeated this phrase to convince everyone listening that he believed that one day blacks and whites would live in harmony together and segregation would be a thing of the past. He wanted everyone to believe that it was possible, they just had to push for a change. Later, at the end of his speech, he said, “And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, 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 and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’” By the time he got to the end, he was practically yelling at the crowd because he felt so strongly that one day all his hopes and dreams would all come true and justice would come and he wanted them to never give up on that dream. The impact that Martin Luther King, Jr. made was enormous but it didn’t
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