Rhetorical Analysis Of I Have A Dream Speech

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Martin Luther King, Jr. was an extremely impactful activist during the Civil Rights Movement that gave over 2,500 speeches in his lifetime. Of these speeches, his most popular is his famous I Have a Dream speech that he gave on August 28, 1963 in Washington, D.C. during the March on Washington. Even famous speakers like Martin Luther King, Jr. use persuasive techniques to appeal to the different sides of their audiences. In order to appeal to his predominately African American audience, Martin Luther King, Jr. makes reference to Abraham Lincoln and his granting freedom to slaves by signing the Emancipation Proclamation. King also discusses his personal life, along with his family and children, to show the crowd that he is fighting for the same things as them. In his I Have a Dream speech, Martin Luther King, Jr. used ethos to increase his credibility with his audience, pathos to appeal to his audience’s emotional side, and logos to appeal to his audience’s logical side.
Martin Luther King, Jr.’s use of ethos begins in the first few lines of his I Have a Dream speech. He begins the speech with a direct reference to Abraham Lincoln and his Gettysburg Address. King speaks of Lincoln as an admired figure in the Civil Rights Movement when he states “Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand, signed the Emancipation Proclamation” (King 84). King’s mention of Lincoln appeals to his audience because Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation
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