Rhetorical Analysis Of Dr. Martin Luther King's Speech

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is universally regarded as one of the most important and influential leaders in world history. As the leader of the Civil Rights Movement during the 1950s and 1960s, Dr. King helped African-Americans achieve more progress towards equality than at any other point in American history. While some African-Americans believed that they needed to do anything possible, including violence, to promote their message, Dr. King firmly advocated nonviolent resistance to achieve equality. On August 28, 1963, as part of the “March on Washington,” Dr. King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech to an estimated crowd of 200,000 people at the National Mall in Washington D.C. Through eloquent rhetoric and a powerful tone, he educated …show more content…

King opened his speech by proclaiming, “I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.” Already known as the leader of the Civil Right’s Movement and a main organizer of the ”March On Washington”, this promise helped Dr. King further establish credibility with his audience because they understood that he was about to deliver a monumental address that would reflect the magnitude of the entire demonstration. Very few speakers have the courage to open a speech by declaring that it will become a moment in history that will be remembered forever. However, Dr. King knew he would deliver a powerful address and wanted the audience to realize the importance of his message to the future of …show more content…

King uses vivid imagery and literary devices to evoke emotions and notions that African-Americans are treated unfairly and deserve equal treatment. For example, he says, “One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.” By using phrases such as “crippled” and “chains,” he illustrates how racism holds African-Americans back in society and creates unimaginable pain. He continues, “One hundred years later the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.” The idea of a lonely island in the midst of a vast ocean is a metaphor allows the audience to understand how segregation separates African-Americans from the luxurious white society and how African-Americans suffer by seeing the benefits whites have. While white people get to enjoy all of the amenities of ocean, African-Americans are only allowed to use a tiny, unwanted section of the ocean, continuing their pain from poverty. Finally, he uses repetition to instruct African-Americans to never be satisfied until racial equality is achieved and how he has a dream of a future where Blacks and Whites can coexist. Each time he repeats, “We cannot be satisfied” or “I have a dream,” you can hear the progressive increase in emotion in his voice. He does this so the audience understands the pain he has experienced and his passion for preventing future generations of African-Americans from

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