Martin Luther King Jr Rhetorical Summary
“I Have A Dream” On August 28th of 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. gave one of the most famous speeches of all time. “I Have a Dream”. The speech was heard by thousands upon thousands of people in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D. C. This speech addressed many things, one of which was the severe racial injustices against African American citizens at the peak of the Civil Rights Movement in the U. S. King conveyed his message of social justice and equality with an essence of poise and eloquent detail.
King was very good at connecting with the American people and convincing them to join the fight against the racial inequality and discrimination. This speech was so persuasive because King effectively used rhetorical methods throughout his speech. From what I took from this speech, King was able to utilize every rhetorical method including pathos, logos, and ethos. Martin Luther King Jr. ’s speech, “I Have a Dream”, uses the emphasis of pathos throughout the duration of his speech.
For example, he states true feelings that many people in our nation were feeling at that time, which brought out a strong sense of realness to his speech. The emotion that was expressed throughout was a key factor in the success and impact of Dr. King’s address to the nation. One of his many great quotes that I found important is follows: “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. (King 2) The way that he uses the morale of the crowd to emphasize his beliefs, was a perfect way to get his points across. King used many rhetorical methods in his “I Have a Dream” speech to state his views and promote equality in the United States. Many injustices towards blacks were happening all around the country. Government services such as schools were segregated into separate black and white sanctioned schools that were far from equal. Logos, one of the three key rhetorical elements in this speech was used quote well throughout.
King’s ideas and beliefs made its impact and appeal the population. The ideas of King’s racial equality and equal opportunity brought out a logical appeal of logos into Martin Luther King’s speech. The third and final rhetorical method used in his speech was ethos, or the ethical appeal and credibility to the situation at hand. King showed that Black, White, Asian, or any other race should be considered equal and have equal opportunity to succeed and live a prosperous life. Martin Luther King Jr. id what he sought to do, that was to persuade and show people that any race, gender, or nationality should be equal and have equal rights. Martin Luther King used the appeal to pathos to make his speech so convincing. He targeted every citizen of the United States, because it would take every American citizen and their cooperation to bring equality to each individual. ”Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path or racial justice.
Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God’s children” (King 1). Kings approach to appealing to the values of the American people he mentioned God, because religions impact to most Americans no matter their race or gender. King talking about God, spoke on their and ravished their emotions. Talking about family, King also had an impact to almost every American. “I have a dream 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” (King 2).
By mentioning things about God and family, king has leveled himself with the American population and they can relate to what he is talking about. By doing this, it was the best way to get people to listen to him and understand him. By showing that Blacks, Whites, and Asians all share major similarities that they can use to bring themselves together instead of focusing on differences that would drive them apart. Martin Luther King Jr. ’s appeal to logos comes from the basic principals America was founded on. 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” (King 2) His argument is logical absolutely true to be one of the founding principles of the country, which was that all people are created equal and given equal opportunity. At this time the government wasn’t holding itself true to that standard. The claim in the “I have a Dream” speech was that all men were created equal and the support to this claim was the statement that presented itself in the Declaration of Independence. This will be the day when all God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning. My country tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my father’s died, land of the pilgrims’ pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring. ” (King 3) Martin Luther King Jr. used rhetorical appeals of credibility, ethos, to make his speech successful. By making the audience listen, he had to have some sort of experiences and credibility to be able to talk about racial inequality.
Stating the obvious fact that King was a Black American during one of the nation’s most trying times of racial inequality and oppression, appeals to people because he experienced firsthand what has been going on. A black man talking about racial discrimination is more convincing and legitimate than a white person talking about it. King’s qualification to speak about social injustices against minorities because of his background and education in morality and religion. People were also drawn to King’s strong vocation for peaceful protests.
One of the major reasons why king was likely listen to more was because of his standard of not having to use violent means of protest to portray his views of inequality and freedom. The many rhetorical methods in Martin Luther King Jr. ’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech are all important for these reasons. Without the methods used throughout his speech, he wouldn’t have caught the public’s attention and persuaded them with the use of logos, pathos, and ethos, the way that he could have. Without the use of the rhetorical methods used throughout this speech, King wouldn’t have got the response or the success of his speech.
These methods had a strong impact which gave this speech power, to shape the audience. This well built, well thought out speech, was KEY to the Civil Rights Movement. From Kings numerous peace walks, and finally the “I Have a Dream” speech, gave way to a new America, one where one isn’t judged by the color of their skin or the social status of their being, but of their character, and what their morals are. I leave you with one final quote from one of the best speakers, “Free at last, Free at last, Oh lord we are free at last. ”