The speech entitled I’ve been to the Mountaintop, is the last speech performed by Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr, born January 15, 1929, was an empowering social activist that led the civil rights movement. Martin Luther King led many peaceful protests throughout his life and fought for equality. He led the popular Montgomery bus boycott. Being a minister, he often gave many speeches. One of his most well-known speeches is, I have a Dream. Although, Martin Luther King died at only 39, he was an activist that impacted the society. I’ve been to the Mountaintop is a 40-minute speech that was spoken in Memphis Tennessee. Martin told this speech to support a strike that was led by sanitation workers.
A large crowd listened to him and were encouraged to unite. He made the audience come to the realization that if they wanted equality, they were all going to have to fight for it. The speech was significant because Martin addressed the problems colored people were facing and how it impacts everyone. “…if something isn’t done, and done in a hurry, to bring the colored peoples of the world out of their long years of poverty, their long years of hurt and neglect, the whole world is doomed.”
He emphasizes the point that this was no longer just a problem that you could complain about. This inequality had to be dealt or there would be dangerous effects, such as war and chaos. One of Martin’s point in the speech is we must come together as a nation to fight for human rights. He stresses the fact that we can’t sit around anymore hoping for peace, we must do something. However, it was important that they demanded for change peacefully with nonviolence. The most well-known part in his speech, is when he references the bible. He compares a world with equality as ‘The Promise Land’. He knows that he will not make it to the ‘promise land’ in his lifetime, but he is grateful that he was allowed to go to the ‘mountaintop’ and look over at the ‘promise land.’
Martin Luther King uses many rhetorical devices in order to deliver a powerful speech. “But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.” In this line, Martin uses figurative language, specifically an analogy, to influence the audience. He compares seeing stars in the dark sky with the inequality and racism in society and how there is still hope for a better future. This comparison gives the audience a better understanding of the terrible place they are currently in but reassures them that it can always get better. In his speech, Martin lists places around the world and then he claims everyone has a common goal. “We want to be free!” Martin is using emotional appeal to make the audience feel as though they are not alone.
Martin tells them that this injustice is being experienced globally. This encourages the audience to strive for justice. Another rhetorical device Martin uses is parallelism. He says, “…to bring the colored people of the world out of their long years of poverty, their long years of hurt and neglect….” ( The use of parallelism emphasizes the struggles of colored people have been happening for a long time. He wants the crowd to understand that colored people have been dealing with inequality for far too long.