“I Have a Dream”: Rhetorical Analysis Essay

Dr. Martin Luther King had a huge impact on ending segregation and discrimination. But what was so different about Dr.

King that attracted such large audiences and caused a change of heart in people that had never known a world without segregation? A thorough analysis of Dr. King’s speech shows that King used a perfect combination of emotional appeal and logic to make points clear throughout his speech.King’s references to Lincoln’s emancipation proclamation and quotes of the men who founded this nation bring people to the conclusion that no race is superior to another and discrimination goes against the “natural laws” that our founding fathers spoke about. On August 28th, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in our nation’s capital, Washington D. C. The speech was given in front of the Lincoln Memorial and is known by many as one of the most influential speeches on freedom and the equality of Americans, regardless of their race.Some 200,000 people gathered to hear Dr.

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King talk about the segregation and discrimination against African Americans in our nation at that time. King bought to the attention of the American people that our country was founded upon freedom and as a democracy we have the right to change laws and institute new laws if it will benefit society as a whole. During his speech, Dr. Martin Luther King uses a series of metaphors and examples from past experiences to help listeners get a better understanding of the points he was trying to make.

The way King speaks while giving this speech really brings Americans together and points out that it is wrong for a race to be discriminated against in a nation where freedom is promised. King changed the hearts of many people, black and white. In a nation where people had never experienced life without discrimination, people began to look at the larger picture and question whether segregation was just. Unfortunately, King was murdered not long after giving his speech and the black community lost their best communicator in a time when they needed him most.However, his speech will live on forever and will be remembered as one of the most influential and inspiring speeches in the history of the United States of America. The ethos Dr. King uses in his “I Have a Dream” speech are some of the most powerful and memorable lines in the history of the United States.

King’s first line “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,” shows that King is confident in the message he is about to carry out. If people weren’t attracted to his style of speaking at that point they would surely be with what was to follow.King references Lincoln and the emancipation proclamation following his opening line. “Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. ” Lincoln was a very powerful president and many Americans adored his views. King was able to adjust his speech so that it triggered emotion in everyone listening, not just African Americans.

The real irony from this comes from the fact that he was giving his speech in front of a memorial of the late president that he was referring to! Dr. King continues on and brings up the Declaration of Independence.He quotes our founding fathers that wrote the constitution when talking of the rights every American was promised of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. ” King really establishes his credibility during this part of his speech, because he digs deeper than modern politics and the laws of the current time in which they lived. Quoting the foundation that our country was founded on not only revealed that King was very knowledgeable, but also got many white people questioning the fairness of the laws and discrimination that they had been surrounded by for their entire lives.King made it obvious that our country was based on the idea that we are a democracy with the right to amend our constitution in the interest of the people. Americans may have never understood that the country they were living in was unrightfully denying rights to the people that were entitled to them under our constitution had King not included so many references from America’s history and examples to prove the points he was making. King sparks the interest of everyone that is listening and develops a trust through examples of past leaders and the constitution that our country was built upon.

King also uses strong pathos to capture the hearts of his listeners. King makes it clear that he is not only talking about freedom for African Americans when he references the bible. By quoting the book cherished by everyone at that time, Dr. King declares that all people should stand side by side and no man was created any greater than the next. Not only has King established credibility at this point, but also has captured the minds and hearts of everyone in the crowd by quoting biblical text.If a white person of that time was to question King’s credibility after his use of ethos, they would surely be convinced that he was talking in the interest of all people when he references a book that most people of that time and many years before lived their life by. One of the most important things King says is in the title of his speech. While giving his speech, King references the American dream which is something every American citizen can relate to.

He is very repetitive with the statement “I have a dream” and gets a very emotional response from the crowd.King explains that the only dream he has is the ability to dream; the ability for blacks and whites to join hands and end discrimination once and for all. King starts out by saying “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. “” Once again, King is using foundations that our country was built upon to capture the hearts of all Americans. After King speaks of his dreams, he quotes the song “My country ‘tis of thee. ” Every American knows this song and what it stands for, but King explains that America is far from free.Dr.

King goes on to explain that if America is to be a great nation then the song has to be tree. According to King, every man from coast to coast is to be free if there is any hope for prosperity in our nation. This not only appeals to his black audience, but also to the white people that never knew any better than to discriminate against different groups. People who had grown up surrounded by racists and never given thought to what is morally right began to adapt the views of King and see the damage segregation was doing to our country. Dr.King uses amazing examples of logos in his speech. By quoting the words of our founding fathers by saying, “All Americans are promised life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. ” King is able to connect with the audience on a deeper level and they start to realize it is not just a matter of one race.

Rather it is a matter of all races and people’s rights are being taken away from them by society. Also, Dr. King makes a statement comparing money with freedom. By saying, ““America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds. ” (King), he is able to put the ideas in better terms for the audience to understand. All Americans are familiar with money and everyone can relate to being handed a bad check. In conclusion, King successfully uses a combination of ethos and pathos while giving his “I Have a Dream” speech. In a time where segregation was nationwide and discrimination was terrible, he bought the American people together and united a country by referencing the views our founding fathers had based our nation upon.

Dr.King started a movement that would quickly sweep across our nation until black people finally got the rights that were promised to them in the constitution. The use of metaphors, past leaders, and even songs helped King make his point to the hundreds of thousands of people in the crowd in 1963. Dr.

Martin Luther King’s speech will always be a prime example of how touching a speech can be if a speaker uses the right amount of emotional appeal with logic to back up the facts that they present.Works CitedMount, Steve. “Constitutional Topic: The Census. ” USConstitution. net.

3 Jan. 2011. 27 Feb. 2011


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