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Famous Speeches Analysis Essay


This speech was Martin Luther King Jr.’s most iconic and influential speeches. Delivered to a large gathering to civil rights marchers, this speech’s purpose was to press the US government for racial equality. At this point in history, “black” Americans were strongly racially targeted particularly in the southern states. Laws in these particular states forcibly segregated coloured and white Americans; thus introducing the formation of ghettos. Americans who attempted to stand up for equality risked facing attacks from Ku Klux Klansmen, who bombed homes and churches.


Martin Luther King Jr. was a Baptist minister and civil-rights activist who had a prominent impact on race relations in the United States, beginning in the mid-1950s. Through his activism, he played a crucial role in concluding the legal ghettoization of African-American citizens in the South and other areas of the nation, as well as the establishment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. King was assassinated in April 1968, and continues to be remembered as one of the most glorified African-American leaders in history, often referenced by his 1963 speech, “I Have a Dream.”


The power of the speech was arguably down to the delivery as much as the content. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech was 17 minutes long, yet is best remembered for the few moments where he pushed aside his papers and in a soaring voice painted an stimulating picture of a future America. Martin Luther King’s speechwriter Clarence B Jones confirmed in his book Behind the Dream the final section of the speech was off-script, after King gave himself over “to the spirit of the moment.” This final section contained rhetorics, which questioned themes personally close to all Americans; hence touching every listener.

His body language and tone was charismatic, encouraging and visionary. His strong and determined tone reinvigorated the marchers and eventually captivated the nation. Martin Luther King’s pauses after each respective point allowed the audience time to take in the information. His hand gestures allowed him to be able to physically as well as verbally communicate his point. King’s change in tone, pitch and speed throughout his speech allowed him to be able to encourage the audience and portray emotion effectively.


Writing in the journal American Heritage Dr. Clayborne Carson (history professor at Stanford University and director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute) said:

“The genius of King’s I Have a Dream speech lay not in his originality but in the way he expressed ideas better than those from whom he borrowed. In turn his words have informed the oratory of subsequent generations of American political leaders.”

The speech appealed to all of the American Society including white liberals, poor black southerners, and the international community. His personal portrayal as a quintessentially American leader pursuing American goals appealed to northern liberals.


The force of King’s speech is developed throughout audacious statements and rhythmic repetition. Each repetition develops and strengthens the one before and is fortified by Martin Luther King’s ever growing desire.

“WE CAN NEVER BE SATISFIED AS LONG AS the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. WE CAN NEVER BE SATISFIED AS LONG AS our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. WE CANNOT BE SATISFIED AS LONG AS the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one.

“GO BACK TO Mississippi, GO BACK TO Alabama, GO BACK TO South Carolina…”

“WITH THIS FAITH, WE WILL BE ABLE TO hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. WITH THIS FAITH, WE WILL BE ABLE TO transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. WITH THIS FAITH, WE WILL BE ABLE TO work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.”

“LET FREEDOM RING FROM Stone Mountain of Georgia.

LET FREEDOM RING FROM Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

LET FREEDOM RING FROM every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, LET FREEDOM RING.”

As the speech comes to a close the pace of Martin Luther King’s repetition escalates, helping to form a climax.

Theme words repeated throughout the speech:

freedom (20 times)

we (30 times), our (17 times), you (8 times)

nation (10 times), America (5 times), American (4 times)

justice (8 times) and injustice (3 times)

dream (11 times)

King’s appropriate use of rhetorical questions was an effective literary technique.


King used hard-hitting metaphors that aren’t just about making comparisons but about stirring emotions.

Example: _[The Emancipation Proclamation] came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity._

Example: _We will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope._


King carries his message with engaging, memorable rhythm. The example below shows the elegant eloquence of the build up of words to portray rhythm.

Example: _We will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together…_

_Rise from the dark and desolate…the marvelous new militancy…trials and tribulations…_

Allusion: King’s speech reaches well beyond his words. He points to shared references that are already heavily loaded with built-in emotion.

Example: _Five score years ago, a great American…signed the Emancipation Proclamation_. -This also is a historical reference to Abraham Lincoln’s use of poetic words to depict a period of time.

Example: Many references and quotes from “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” and “Free at Last.”


This was when the orator re-worded one focal idea twice; thus re-enforcing and rejuvenating it with greater emphasis, details, or explanation the second time. It was powerfully effective.

Example: _America has given the Negro people a bad Cheque; a Cheque, which has come back, marked “insufficient funds.”_

King also placed color/content and skin/character side by side, drawing the audience’s attention to profoundly diverse ways of ENVISIONING the world rather than simply SEEING it.

Example: _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._





Robinson’s focal purpose is that children are born with huge talents, wasted by the contemporary education system. While children are not afraid of being wrong, school and the natural system eradicate this approach. Robinson thinks that this, making mistakes, is the only way to develop new ideas, although getting on in life means not making mistakes.

People, particularly children, should have more space to be wrong, hence to potentials of creating something new. Being developed in the 19th century, the education system is fixated on delivering the necessities for a job in the industry and academic ability. The orator points out that the hierarchy of subjects around the world is the same: first comes math and languages, followed by humanities and concluded by the arts, especially music and art, after that drama and dance.

Talented people do not get the sense of achievement, because things they are talented at are not appreciated; consequently, their great creative capacities are fruitless. Additionally, Sir Ken Robinson mentions an “academic inflation” around the world, since circumstances for job entrance signifying to one’s academic degree are high.

Intellect is distinctly based on visual, tonal, dynamic and abstract influences as a result it is the collaboration of different disciplinary ways of seeing things. That is why the whole body has to be educated to use the whole scale of human capacity. Thus fundamental ideologies of the education system have to be changed in order to send the next generation into a better, more accepting


Sir Ken Robinson, a prominent intellectual on education, creativity and innovation, claims that it is a financial essential in a world where imagination and innovation are critical to the future that education becomes more assorted, more creative and more accepting overall.


Initially, Sir Ken is an appealing and amusing speaker, whose well-defined and straightforward philosophies are presented in an almost chatty tone. Slight anecdotes reinforce the great ideas in a humorous approach. Sir Ken is a welcoming presence whose individual charm is not weakened by any disruptions. There are no slide shows or cue cards; there’s just an audience and one man on a stage, speaking from the heart.

Furthermore, Robinson devotes a pretty significant portion of his speech to telling several short and long stories. He breathes life into his core message with these story-based illustrative examples. This is relatable, memorable and a distinct way to reinforce and give examples to support the main idea.

Robinson made his speech engaging and thought-provoking with the use of rhetorical questions. Robinson does this in a very patterned way. In most cases, he follows up a declarative statement with a two or three-word rhetorical question. This can be seen various times throughout the speech. His main, expertise views are then presented to the audience to judge and re-consider. His use of “you” in these questions was having a conversation WITH the audience rather than a speech AT the audience. (E.g. “wouldn’t you?”)

He let the audience know, early on, what the talk was about; “My contention is that creativity now is as important in education as literacy and we should treat it with the same status.” Preparing the audience for the main purpose of the speech.

His humor was pleasing, understated and well timed. Robinson spoke with great solemnity and purpose, provoking the audience to applaud. However, instead of continuing with the same heavy theme, he immediately lightened the mood – “That was it by the way. Thank you very much. So, 15 minutes left.” Robinson did this throughout the speech.

Robinson’s posture and hand gestures were open and inviting. He did not hide behind a lectern, but walked around and moved freely- showing his ease and passion about the topic. The absence of cue cards reinforced this.

Sir Ken Robinson left the audience with food for thought. He ended memorably and passionately with a challenge to the audience.


Benchmarks appear to be dwindling in several key areas, discipline and engagement are not what they once were, and a cumulative amount of young adults are graduating without a clear idea of what to do next or any sense of future security. Although governments, educators, and school boards are feverishly trying to adapt, what is up-to-the-minute is often nothing more than an alteration of prevailing policies. What Robinson propositions is not a learning ‘evolution’, but a ‘revolution’, and this is an appealing idea.

The solution, concurring to Robinson, is that schools should embrace Art, Music, Dance, and other forms of creative learning, as enthusiastically as are mainstream subjects like Science and English. They should not be seen as scholastically ‘second-class’, or complementary to the needs of students, but as fundamental parts of a well-rounded education.

Sir Ken Robinson reasons that the dwindling education system is because we’ve been educated to become good workers, rather than creative thinkers. Students with edgy minds and bodies are ignored or even stigmatized, with terrible consequences. “We are educating people out of their creativity,” Robinson says.

Robinson suggests we question ourselves; as we grow up, do we lose our imagination and creativity? Why? Does the education system strip us of our originality and individuality? Does this society condemn mistakes? Does our education put us under the pressure to reach a certain ideal? Sir Ken Robinson discusses how human creativity is being suffocated by education systems and societal expectations. He explains that because our society stigmatizes mistakes, we become less willing and less able to produce original content, in fear of failure and intolerance.


_’Good morning. How are you? It’s been great, hasn’t it? I’ve been_ _BLOWN AWAY_ _by the whole thing. In fact, I’m leaving.’_

“Blown away” is an idiom, which means it is not to be interpreted in the literal sense. Rather, it means “To cause someone great pleasure or surprise; to greatly impress someone”. It is always used positively.

_”The second is, that it’s put us in a place where we have no idea what’s going to happen, in terms of the future, no idea how this may_ _PLAY OUT_ _.”_

“Play Out” is a phrase. This phrase is used on processes and how they develop, turnout, unfold, take place etc.

_’But if you are, and you say to somebody, you know, they say, “What do you do,” and you say you work in education, you can_ _SEE THE BLOOD RUN FROM THEIR FACE_ _. They’re like, “Oh my god,” you know, “why me?”‘_

“To see the blood run from someone’s face” is an idiom. This idiom is used to convey negative feelings, e.g. fear, embarrassment, shock, or dislike etc. As you can imagine, when a person feels the above emotions, the blood runs from their face, and their face turns pale.

_’All kids have tremendous talents and we_ _SQUANDER_ _them (talents), pretty ruthlessly.’_

“Squander” is a verb. It means to waste something foolishly (usually money). OR You should never squander your money. Instead, save it up and spend it carefully and wisely.

_’And we run our companies like this, by the way, we_ _STIGMATIZE_ _mistakes. And we’re now running national education systems where mistakes are the worst thing you can make.’_

This verb comes from the noun “stigma”, which is defined as “a social disgrace”. In other words, something that society considers being bad or having a bad reputation, or leaves a bad mark. It goes without saying that this word is used negatively.


Imperative 1: We must individualize teaching and learning.

Imperative 2: We must attribute a high status to the teaching profession, and see Professional Development as an investment, not a cost.

Imperative 3: We must make schools responsible and autonomous to get the job done. Centralized decision-making is not the way.

Curiosity makes us learn almost without further assistance. The difficult job for teachers is not to teach, but to facilitate learning. (Standardized) testing is OK to measure outcomes, but should not obstruct learning.

Humans are inherently creative. But we are currently ‘stuck’ in a paradigm of standardization, killing our creativity.


He used two powerful quotes – by Pablo Picasso and Jonas Salk – at appropriate points in the speech to drive home his points.

E.g. 1. We have to rethink the fundamental principles on which we’re educating our children. There was a wonderful quote by Jonas Salk, who said, _”If all the insects were to disappear from the earth, within 50 years all life on Earth would end. If all human beings disappeared from the earth, within 50 years all forms of life would flourish.”_ And he’s right.

E.g. 2. _”All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”_


The audience is engaged by thought-provoking use of rhetoric, rather than a monologue-like speech. This fits in well with Robinson’s frank, conversational style and personalizes the speech with the use of “you”.

Robinson does this in a very patterned way. Frequently, he supported a declarative statement with a two or three-word rhetorical question. For example:

_”…Everybody has an interest in education. Don’t you?”_


_”…The whole purpose of public education throughout the world is to produce university professors. Isn’t it?”_

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