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I Have a Dream: Persuasive and Powerful Speech

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Martin Luther King Jr. Speech

The “I Have a Dream” speech is one of the most famous speeches ever given in the history of nation. As quoted by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. himself, also one of the “greatest demonstrations of freedom in the history of our nation.” It changed the world and impacted it in ways that forever shaped America. His strong speaking skills, and the way he conveyed his message impacted the heart of all Americans. Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech is influential, uses many forms of analogies to captivate his points, and uses confidence in his speech to get his point across.

In the introduction of the speech he tries to get the point across that blacks were still not free. He uses our basic amendments to show that. He uses the point of the emancipation proclamation that says, “All men are created equal.” To him, separate but equal is not equal. He notes that American’s are supposed to be given “Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness.” He goes on to say that giving black people insufficient funds and letting them basically have the crappier end of things, isn’t constitutional. He is trying to get the point across that separate but equal is unconstitutional. The whole introduction he basically talks about everything wrong with the way African Americans are treated compared to what the constitution says.

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He has a basic beginning, middle, and end in the speech. First he has his introduction. He started the introduction by talking about our unalienable rights, and how it basically violates separate but equal. In that he gives examples how it does, so on and so forth. Then in the middle, it talks about how this cannot go on and what it must take for racism and inequality to stop. It is almost riddled in sorrow seemingly. Then at the end it takes a totally 180 degree turn. He goes on a more positive note and begins the famous “I have a dream,” quotes. He talks about his faith in our nation and that he sees that there is a brighter future. He even ends it in the inspiring song Let Freedom Ring.

From talking about the Amendments and how it violates black’s rights he uses a transition that flows quite smoothly. When talking about all the racism that is happening with the separate but equal he ends it by saying in the last paragraph that “We should not distrust the white man; many are present here today because they realize the problem etc.” He completely ends it by saying “We cannot walk alone; we cannot turn back.” This leads into the short middle section where he talks about how they will never be satisfied until freedom and equal rights are given to them, and talks about all the wrongs that are going on. It ends with, “Let us not wallow in a valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.” Then starts the final conclusion about his hopes and dreams for our nation with, “And so even though we face difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream.”

The conclusion of the speech was very uplifting, empowering, inspirational, and powerful. During those days it was unheard of for black people to stand up, and be leaders. When he got up on that podium and spoke about having a dream, it blew America away. It was the perfect ending to a speech that started out with facts about our rights, and despair for the African Americans and what they are going through. It ended on a positive and uplifting note. He talked about his hopes and dreams of American becoming a better place even going as far to bring his own children into the matter. He dreamed of a nation where, “My four little children would not be judged by the color of their skin, but their content of character.” During this he uses many examples of his dream for the better America. He ends it by quoting Let Freedom Ring and staying on the subject of freedom for everyone, including blacks. He doesn’t use a clincher which is based upon facts, he mostly just uses powerful speaking and inspiration to get the point across.

First off the biggest theme of the speech is equality. The whole reason of his speech is because he wants blacks and for all people to have equality, and actual equality instead of just separate but equal. That is the biggest theme that happens throughout the speech. Second is freedom. Throughout the speech the word “freedom’ is used many times. The whole last part of the conclusion is quoting Let Freedom Ring. He even ends the speech with the words “Free at Last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty were free at last!” Another theme that it incorporates is tolerance. This doesn’t just mean white people to the black people, but the other way around as well. A lot of black people back then hated the white people and wanted to fight like Malcolm X. Dr. Martin Luther King, in his speech, spoke against it. Telling people to not distrust white people, and that he had a dream that little black children and little white children would hold hands. Tolerance was a huge theme involved. The fourth theme that was in his speech was repetition. We can see this repeatedly when he keeps saying, “I have a dream” towards the end of the speech. This is used to really get his point across, and to grab the speaker’s attention. The last theme in the speech is using historical proofs. He went and studied the Gettysburg Address and the Bill of Rights to help support his claims.

Throughout the speech Dr. Martin Luther King uses many analogies throughout the speech to grab our attention and help us understand. First he uses metaphors to help covey his point there is “flames of withering injustice,” and “joyous daybreak.” Second he uses simile in ,”Until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream,” and “This momentous decree came as a great beacon of light of hope to millions of Negro slaves.” Next he uses alliteration in his speech with “The marvelous new militancy,” and “you have come here out of great trials and tribulations.” These can sort of help the speech flow well by adding these in. Then in his speech he uses repetition this can be seen with the words “I have a dream that one day” several times and also with, “We can never be satisfied,” a couple times. Then King uses allegory with “five score years ago,” and “Declaration of Independence.” Next King uses forecasting with basically any line he starts with “I have a dream.” Whether it’s “that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice,” or “that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” he uses forecasting. Then he uses hyperbole. “I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight,” and “I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice,” are both hyperboles. The eighth thing he uses is antithesis with “One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity,” and “Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.” Then King also uses parallel construction in “With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day,” and “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.” Lastly he uses his tone and volume to influence his speech. This can be seen whenever he says the words, “I have a dream,” and when he says “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty we’re free at last!”

Dr. Martin Luther King did amazing at persuading the world with his words. His repetition, and many metaphors, and other analogies made the speech what it was. At all the right points he used a more direct tone and volume to show what he was trying to get across. His posture and the way he hardly ever looked at his speech made it what it was. If I was there witnessing the speech at that time I know I would have been moved by the speech because it came straight from the heart, and his many techniques to create the speech were captivating. Even 50 years later I was moved. Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech is influential, uses many forms of analogies to captivate his points, and uses confidence in his speech to get his point across.

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