On August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King delivered a speech “I Have a Dream” to over 200, 000 civil rights supporters in Washington following a protest march for freedom and jobs. In his speech that lasted 17 minutes, Luther called for racial equality and halt to all manner discrimination.
The speech came at a time when black people in America were facing serious challenges that stretched from racial segregation to slavery to bigotry. At this time, the civil-rights movement in America was expanding rapidly and it came to pas that the speech meant to galvanize the movement. The speech left an indelible imprint in the hearts of many Americans who wanted justice to be their shield and defender.
In fact, as days went by, the speech “I Have a Dream” by Martin Luther has become one of the most high-ranking and rousing pieces of oratory in American history. Amazingly, when Luther reached midway reading the scripted text, he posed and then abandoned it. Instead, Luther improvised the sections of the speech leading to its making it decipherable—the itinerary through which the words “I have a dream” fervently replicate.
This essay will examine and analyze Martin Luther’s speech “I have a dream” with am emphasis on speech for voice and rhetoric. Notably, it is imperative to note that Luther argued and supported his clause. Thus, it is also imperative to make out the language he used and the directed audience (Doug 1).
To start with, Luther starts by saying that all men irrespective of their color, race, age or sex are equal. In his speech, Luther repeatedly mentioned the mistreatment of black Americans over a long period. For instance, Luther starts by saying, “One hundred year later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination” (The Junto Society 1).
He goes on repeatedly calling for equality among all American citizens. Luther goes ahead to state how he visions his four children living in a nation devoid of racism, and the one in which the content of character of a person matters. In his speech, Luther finds historical documents so imperative in defending his argument.
For example, the Emancipation Proclamation set the pace to end slavery in America. The document, which was an executive order and fully enjoying the support of President Lincoln, earmarked a new era in United States by advocating the freeing of slaves in the accomplice states.
In other words, this was the beginning of a new chapter in America, the chapter of equality for African-American. The second historical document stated by Luther was of course, the United States Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. In particular, this document promises liberty and the quest of contentment for all Americans, both black and white (The Junto Society 1).
The entire speech is a masterpiece of rhetoric characterized by a sophisticated voice. In addition, Luther employs numerous descriptive words, instead of unswerving words. Noticeably, the speech is full of metaphors for example, “America has given the Negro a bad check, which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds’”. All this meant to awaken America to the reality of justice and equality, onto the realization that all Americans are equal—whether black or white.
Luther also employs anaphora, that is, the repetition of certain phrases such as “Let freedom ring”, “I have a dream”, and ‘With this faith” to emphasize on the prevailing circumstances. It is also imperative to note that Luther is addressing all Americans, both white and black, and hence the use of words “we” and “our”. In conclusion, Luther urges both black and white Americans to coexist as they have a common destiny (Keith 1).
Doug, DuBrin. “I Have a Dream” as a Work of Literature. 2011. Web. 19 April 2011.
Keith, Miller. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968). (n.d.). Web. 19 April 2011.
The Junto Society. Martin, Luther King Jr. I Have a Dream. August 28, 1963. 2002. Web. 19 April 2011.