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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. : 'I Have a Dream'

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Introduction

Essay: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. : 'I Have a Dream' Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech to the thousands of African Americans who had marched on Washington, D.C. at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. The date of the speech was August 28, 1963, but it is one that will live for generations. Of course his purpose was to convince his audience on several fronts: he sought to persuade the black community to stand up for the rights afforded them under the Constitution, and he also sought to demonstrate to the white community that a "simple" black man could so effectively use powers of persuasion that they too would have reason to join the cause. He stated in his opening sentence that the event at which he spoke would "go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation". His words were indeed true, and they certainly fit the event. The first point that Dr. King made in his speech was that of recalling for all the promise inherent in Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. ...read more.

Middle

It is Dr. King's purpose to call for unity of the people. It is only within this framework that Dr. King can make his next statement and still retain the white portion of his audience. Though ostensibly speaking to the black population, it is the white portion that controls the ability to effect any real changes. Without the allusion to Abraham Lincoln, Dr. King's statement that "the Negro still is not free" would have served to divide the people, rather than unite them in purpose and in truth. Dr. King exercises the strategy of pathos in his statement, "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 quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all God's children". As he referred earlier to the truth embodied in Abraham Lincoln, so he now references a greater, even more enduring truth: words written in the Bible. ...read more.

Conclusion

The white community has operated in suppress, but Dr. King calls on the black community to provide lessons in how to avoid them. Dr. King also employs the strategy of ethos, defined as a tool communicators use to present themselves as people of good character and valid authority. He said, "I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. 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". Though Dr. King's black audience would accept his character and authority to speak to them as he did, the white portion of his audience, the larger one that he needed to reach, likely would only see him as a "Negro" who failed to understand the larger picture. Dr. King averts that reaction refering to the Declaration of Independence, symbolic in itself that he should use it for the black portion of the nation's citizens. His character and authority would be lost on the white audience; that of the Declaration of Independence - written through the combined effort of white men - would not. ...read more.

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