Early in the 20th century, Mohandas Gandhi started his political career in South Africa, resisting the discrimination against the Indian people in South Africa. Despite some successes, segregation in South Africa remained a very real reality until the 1990’s. Gandhi went back to India and achieved perhaps one of the greatest feats in history, liberating India from the yoke of colonialism through nonviolent passive resistance. Gandhi’s strategy yielded much less spectacular results in South Africa.
It may have been deducted then that nonviolent passive resistance does not work everywhere and was successful mainly due to Gandhi’s leadership or the culture of the Indian people. But then came along another great visionary. Martin Luther King Jr. showed the world that nonviolent passive resistance works, not just in India, not just under Gandhi’s leadership, but also in the Western world. What Martin Luther King Jr. achieved inspired millions of South Africans who knew very well what segregation and discrimination meant.
His words and the example he set avoided a bloodbath in a racial civil war in South Africa as it did here in America. Our media was filled with reports of the civil rights struggle. Despite the South African government’s attempts to turn King’s work into an example of the anarchy that would explode should apartheid be abolished, people saw and understood that justice will prevail and that violence is not the answer. (Richard, 1989) South Africa’s own icon of peace and forgiveness, Nelson Mandela, was filled with hope and conviction by what King had achieved.
There are so many parallels between the lives of these two great men. Mandela like King unleashed great power among his people that led to their liberation. Both men throughout their lives encouraged a path not of hate and violence, but of non-violence and love. It may be what gave Mandela the courage to walk out of prison after 27 years and conquer what must have been a strong innate urge to retaliate with bitterness and hate. It is possible that Dr King’s words and work gave Mandela the strength to forgive and the conviction to lead his people to reconciliation in the miracle that is South Africa.
What touched me was Dr. King’s dedication to the dignity of the human being. He fought against all practices that robbed people of their dignity and pride. His speeches spoke to the best that resides in all of us. He reawakened my awareness of our ability to walk in righteousness and dignity, despite circumstances and the actions of others. (Kenneth, 1974) Dr. King’s vision went beyond racial discrimination and the borders of the USA. He remained committed to uplifting the poor and oppressed, white and black, and those committed in war.
Dr King’s words have convinced me that the only way to heal this world is for all of us to realize that we are all one. We are all part of humanity and the suffering of any one of us, affects all of us. Uplifting the poor and the oppressed can only be done by allowing people respect, dignity and justice. In addition to food and shelter, we all need to hold our heads high in dignity, to be proud of our lives and ourselves. Martin Luther King, Jr was the leader of civil rights in United States. He has dedicated his life to the struggle for the racial equality of African Americans.
In August 28th, 1963, King gave one of his most influencing speeches entitled “I Have A Dream. ” The speech was a critical step toward civil rights movement, because without it, King’s opinions of freedom and equality would never reach the hearts of his people, and they would never stand up as a whole to defend themselves. During the speech, King successfully expressed his opinions, and emotionally affected many listeners. This success came from his sensitive approach to audience, his ingenious use of style, and his inspirational tone. (Harry, 1986)
Primarily, the speech was given publicly to a huge number of audiences of both live and televised. King was fully aware that in order to let his audience to favor his point of view, he has to be sensitive to them in every possible way. First of all, King demonstrated sensitivity by selecting a universal topic: racial rights and freedom. This was an issue not only to the black community, but also to rest of the world. When King declared: “all of God’s children… sing, free at last”, it is evident that he included all the people: blacks and whites, in the matter of freedom, and therefore became more appealing to his audience.
(Marvyn, 2000) Furthermore, King tried to approach his audience through their emotions. He described his vivid dreams in which blacks and whites are able to live together in harmony and peace. “I have a dream…. ” The audience was obviously deeply touched by these images, and they could all imagine what a new and joyous world they could be living in. King successfully achieved his emotive purpose through these words, and bonded with the hearts of his audience. Lastly, King had given hope to his audience.
“The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges. ” The hope King had promised for his audience brightened their future ahead, and the audience in return would have to listen to King in order for their dream to come true. (Marvyn, 2000) In summary, King’s selection of a universal topic, his sensitive approach to emotions and his promises of future freedom all contributed in achieving his emotive purpose, and only by doing that, he would be able to persuade the audience to do what he says.
The language King used to convey his opinions was impressive. He used a lot of strong emotional words in crucial sentences, for example: “sweltering with the heat of oppression” or “seared in the flames of withering injustice. ” (Garth Baker-Fletcher, 1993) All these metaphors were used very effectively to provoke passion of the audience. The vivid words used in these metaphors, such as sweltering, heat of oppression or withering injustice conveyed strong emotional feelings in the audience, which allowed them to think about the seriousness of the issue being discussed more clearly.
(Keith, 1992) Again, King’s language helped and supported his emotive purpose toward his audience. Other than the figurative language, King also used connotative statements to arouse feelings and reactions from audience. (Clayborne, 1991) An example can be found in the sentence: “black men as well as white man, should be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. ” In the sentence, King connoted racial equality, which is the big theme he had been discussing about, through common ideas of joy and freedom.
This way, his audience would understand his opinions better and produce a more emotional reaction to him. To sum up, through King’s use of strong emotional words, figurative and connotative language, he was able to convey his opinions more effectively. In 1963, the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference decided on the audacious move of attacking segregation in one of its most prominent areas, Birmingham, Alabama. This has been coined “the Negro Revolution”? by many historians. The day after the city’s municipal elections, Martin Luther King Jr.
‘s Southern Christian Leadership Conference opened their campaign. The civil rights movement underwent a dramatic transition as the nation watched the brutality of segregationist retaliation in Birmingham, despite the SCLC’s commitment to direct, nonviolent action. (John, 1982) Working in conjunction with Birmingham’s civil rights leaders, King coordinated a campaign with the aim of attacking segregation with the use of rallies, sit-ins, picketing, and demonstrations. Eugene “Bull” Connor’s stubborn refusal to give way to the civil rights movement gave the movement the attention that it needed.
Bull Connor was determined to maintain the status quo, even if that meant resorting to violent tactics. Birmingham was the last area of fortified segregation, a blue-collar city full of racially-motivated violence, in which two strong and opposing forces confronted each other in full view of the nation. Connor represented the force that wielded water hoses and police dogs; the other force was represented by Martin Luther King and a movement struggling to bring to light the plight of blacks. Connor’s popularity, as demonstrated by his six victories in city commission races, was due to white voters, workers and corporate leaders alike.
(Lerone, 1968) In addition of Martin Luther King’s language, his tone used during the speech was also helpful in transmitting his ideas. Dr. King used a combination of negative, positive and neutral tones in the speech. All of these helped to develop a strong emotional feeling in audience, once again related to King’s desire of emotive purpose. The speech started with a historical fact that the Emancipation Proclamation “came as the great beacon light of hope for millions of Negro slaves… but 100 years later the Negro still is not free.
” Through this neutral tone, King implied that his people had been cheated by the great democratic nation, and such statements could let part of the audience to ponder if they were the ones responsible for the mistake, and consequently, they would start to feel regretful and change their attitude for racial equality. One example of negative tone is found in a metaphoric sentence: “America has give the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “Insufficient Funds… ” in which King expressed his view on the situation of freedom, and implied his audience to take immediate actions to stop this ridiculous deed.
And later on, he switched to a more positive tone: “I say to you, my friends… ” here, he was approaching his audience in a more friendly way, and this relates back to the sensitivity for audience: to evoke a sense of compassion in the audience. For these reasons, King’s use of tone was effective in leading his audience to favor his point of view, and to strengthen sensitivity toward audience. In conclusion, with a careful sensitivity toward audience, extraordinary language and an adequate tone, Dr. Martin Luther King was able to emotionally affect his audience, and ultimately to persuade them to follow the path to freedom.
(Brian, 1985) It was once said that the future is like a locked door and that education is the key to open a new world of possibilities. Dr. King was a firm believer in education for the youth of America. He encouraged all children in his neighborhood to go to school and college. He also donated money to extremely poor families to keep their children in school. At any rate, Dr. King basically believed that a stronger America relied on a more intelligent America. Dr. King voiced his ideas and stood up for what he believed in like no other person has done before.
During the 1960’s when society was living out a lie with segregation, Dr. King was like a booming voice of truth. Above all else, he suffered personal damage to his home as well as threats made to his family for his actions during the civil rights movement. However, Dr. King pushed on insisting that one-day people will realize that what they are doing is wrong and that he would be there protesting segregation until they did so. This beacon in the night kept his promise to convey his infuriation for segregation until the late 1960’s in which he was assassinated for nothing more than his personal beliefs.
Without a doubt, if Dr. King were alive today the world would be a safer place for everyone. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was the most influential man of the 20th century. He believed in equality for all in a time when America was separated like day and night. Also, he supported education, which in his eyes, served as the backbone of the betterment of society and the foundation for the future. However, the trait that most remember him for was his ability to voice his opinion like no other person has ever done before. References Brian M. Kane, “The Influence of Boston Personalism on the Thought of Dr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. ” (Boston University, 1985) Clayborne Carson , et al. , 1991; “Martin Luther King, Jr. as Scholar: A Reexamination of His Theological Writings,” Journal of American History 78:1 :95 Garth Baker-Fletcher: 1993, Somebodyness: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Theory of Dignity (Minneapolis: Fortress Press) Harry Emerson Fosdick, 1986; “Martin Luther King, Jr. Borrows a Revolution: Argument, Audience, and Implications of a Secondhand Universe,” College English 48:2: 249-65 John J. Ansbro, Martin Luther King, Jr. : The Making of a Mind ( Maryknoll, N. Y. : Orbis Books, 1982).
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