‘I Have A Dream’ Speech


The speech ‘I Have a Dream’ was first delivered to the general public on August 28th, 1963 by the famous activist Martin Luther King, Jr., who was the overall leader in the ‘March on Washington for proper Jobs and Freedom’ of black citizens. The outcome of the powerful speech brought an end to racism cases in America, consecutively promoting the economic and civil rights of citizens regardless of their race.

Over the years, Luther’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech considered amongst the most influential public lectures delivered in the World with use of rhetorical questions of the history of America up until the 20th century. The primary scope of the thesis is to research and perform successful rhetorical analysis of Luther’s persuasive speech. A critical analysis and evaluation of the thesis will focus mainly on the pathos, ethos, and logos of the speech and their significance in enhancing success and emotional resonance.

On August 28th, 1963, Luther took up the action and stood at Lincoln Memorial and delivered a speech that was historic to the March on Washington. The main grievances put forth by the powerful statement included the fight for jobs and freedom of the Black Americans. Within a short period and due to the urge of the speech, Luther managed to receive a vast array of up to 250,000 citizens who were in supportive for the fight of black person’s Freedom and Rights as humans. Due to a large number of participants, the rally considers as one of the most significant political rallies in the United States. Dr. Luther focused on sharing a joint desire to terminate segregation cases experienced mainly in public schools managing to create meaningful right legislation to black Americans and who deserve to be treated equally regardless of their race. The speech is highly praised in civil rights movement and highly rated as more potent in Luther’s legacy (Hansen, 2003: p.177).

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Martin Luther won a Nobel Peace Prize and was named Man of the Year by the TIMES magazine being the youngest ever to receive the Prize at that time. Additionally, the United States National Recording Registry added the speech to the Library of Congress in 2002 as a memorable speech. The speech also categorized as a top public speech in the 1999 Polls of Scholars of the Public (Lucas, Medhurst, 1999: n.p).

What made the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech a success was Luther’s task of convincing the American citizens that certain beliefs, ideologies, and norms had to be changed. However, Luther’s unique use of rhetorical questions made the speech great and memorable thus managed to receive tremendous support from citizens. A rhetoric question is a standard and widely used figure of speech usually in question form, and the primary significance of utilization is to aid speakers to make a point lacking the need of actual answers (Burton, Brigham, 2007). Furthermore, his constant use of rhetorical questions intended to posse challenge to his audience.

The speaker regularly used metaphor in his speech by stating that they had reached a ‘cash a check’ which was about all discriminated blacks and talked about every American citizen to stand for their rights and freedom. Furthermore, Luther used at least three sorts of supportive media that included a bright, vivid description of his experiences as a black Negro, detailed explanations, and relevant examples that made the speech easy to relate.

Luther added that there was still more that needed to be done concerning discrimination cases and the references President Lincoln’s ‘Gettysburg’ speech addressing the point ‘Five score years ago’ which referenced the eradication of slavery as stated by the Emancipation Proclamation Act. This unique strategy applied by Luther and his ability to quote one of the famous presidents in America allowed for authority, and his intense use of Ethos made him establish trustworthiness from his large magnitude of supporters.

The ideas contained in Luther’s speech reflected on his past encounters and experiences of “ethnocentrism” mistreatment including but not limited to the discrimination and exploitation of black citizens (Jordan, 2012: p.192). Despite only fighting for the rights of blacks in America, the speech similarly appealed to American ideology and myths as a nation that offers freedom and justice to its citizens. Throughout the speech, Luther spoke of a great desire for a future where both black and whites mutually exist as equals with a joined motive for developing the nation. Subsequently, the influential activist wished for a world where people don’t isolate themselves based on their racial background.


Works Cited

Burton, Gideon and Brigham Young. “Rhetorical Questions” (2007) Retrieved October 19th, 2007 from http://rhetoric.byu.edu/figures/R/rhetorical%20questions.html

Hansen, D. “The Dream and Speech that inspired the Nation by Martin Luther Jr.,” Harper Collins; New York (2003) p.177

Lucas Stephen and Medhurst Martin. “The ‘I Have a Dream’ speeches of the Century” (1999) Retrieved July 18th, 2006 from http://www.news.wisc.edu/releases/3504.html