Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech analysis report

Authors Avatar by annaleeboakeswestmountschoolnz (student)

On August 28th, 1963, Civil Rights activist Martin Luther King stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, in Washington and delivered the iconic, memorable speech, “I Have a Dream”. At the time, there was many conflicts between black and white men in America. Black men were being treated unfairly, weren’t free, and weren’t treated equally. In the 1960s, King emerged as the leader of the Civil Rights Movement. He delivered this speech to inspire change in both black and white citizens of the United States in the Civil Rights era. The promise of the speech is that both sides accept change in a non-violent, yet effective way. King used a range of aspects including repetition, anaphora, assonance, alliteration, and other rhetorical techniques to convey his message that all people, black and white, were created equal.

Throughout King’s speech, he keeps the audience focused and concentrated on his message by repeating key words from his theme of justice. In the first paragraph, he used the metaphors, ‘A beacon light of hope… ‘Seared in the flames of withering injustice’ showing how the Negro slaves were promised hope that this injustice would end with the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. King repeats the theme of injustice ‘The Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty… in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.’ King emphasises the separation of black and white people, using stark contrasts that help to make his message more powerful. He leaves all the audience, both black and white, with a clear message that the injustice and discrimination being shown to blacks was wrong and it had been happening for too long.

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King makes a strong point of the long time that the injustice to blacks had been occurring and that it isn't too late to change, but he wanted his audience to feel ‘The fierce urgency of NOW.’ He was impelling everyone to take notice today and t change. In order that Americans understood how imperative it was that change happened, King emphasises using anaphora that ‘Now is the time to rise, Now is the time to lift our nation, Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.’ King also indicates that the injustice had ...

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