Racism in the United States was a huge issue during the mid-20th century; African Americans were among the targeted groups that suffered from discrimination. Even though the blacks were said to be free they were constantly being victimized due to the corrupt justice system. Separate but equal was an understatement, but they continued to fight for their freedom with the help of civil rights activist, Martin Luther King Jr. He was a well renowned member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference as well as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
He was involved in several civil rights boycotts and protests hoping to gain the victory of equality in the civil rights movement. Martin Luther Kings’ most famous speech, “I Have a Dream” was given at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The impact that this speech had opened eyes of thousands and painted a picture of the unjust society they were living in. In his speech he carefully used three different types of rhetorical methods: ethos, pathos, and logos. Since Mr. King was an African American he portrayed this message more effectively using ethos.
He knew exactly how the protesters felt during this time period. In his speech he stated, “We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways on to hotels of the cities… as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one.” He was never going to give up on the movement and its fundamentals. Therefore, the
African Americans firmly believed in him and that he would fight for their justice. He had the ability of changing ones mindset by giving real life examples of what was actually going on. He then said, “Some of you have come fresh from narrow cells…from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality.” The blacks were constantly being treated unfairly compared to the other races.
The whites realized that maybe what they were doing was wrong after all. Such as the poll tax, they knew that these slaves were poor so if they couldn’t afford to always put food on the table how could they afford to pay a tax just so they could vote. He even mentions his children, “I have a dream that my four 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” I feel that he wanted more for his children with hopes that they would not have to suffer the struggles that he had to overcome during the civil rights movement.
Dr. King was such an inspirational civil rights activist because he could relate to all races through his moving and powerful speeches. Pathos helped him by using his emotions as he persuaded the audience to no longer hate the Negros but to hate racism and wish for a better world. He wanted his audience to have sympathy for them and to have hope that a better change will come.
He wanted his audience to see that everyone should be treated with the same equal rights and opportunities of a white man. In his speech he is constantly making references saying that they were “stripped of their selfhood.” Imagine how hurtful you would feel if you were told that you cannot use this bathroom facility based on
your skin color because it was for whites only. King wanted people to be judged on their character making the audience feel ashamed of the racism. He wanted us all to be brothers and sisters of “God’s children. It’s sad that children and young adults couldn’t even go to school without be harassed or having people throw things at you. The little rock nine was a group of nine well educated male and female black teens attending an all -white high school.
They were among the first schools to integrate in Arkansas and every day they were escorted to school and from school by United States Army to ensure that nobody was going to harm them. MLK also made it a point in his speech that the whites were holding back the blacks. In reality, he was speaking the truth because blacks could only have jobs that were unwanted and low paying. They could have been geniuses but the whites would not give them the chance that they deserve to show their strengths.
He wanted the audience to feel ashamed of racism. In his speech he showed the audience’s feelings along with his own and his plans of making them sympathize for the blacks. The way Martin Luther King used logos in his “I Have a Dream” speech was remarkable. Every time he said “I Have a Dream” he was stating that it was very important to him so he emphasized that quote. The way his sentences were all put together had to be politically correct so that it would get through to the whites without angering them, but enough for them to have compassion.
He constantly talked about how things actually were in reality and by doing so he touched many lives. Martin Luther King made them see the light and showed them how things could be. No matter if you were a white man or black man, MLK felt that you should be guaranteed your unalienable Rights of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. This was not just his
thought, but it was our founding fathers ideas as well when the created the Declaration of Independence. Still to this day blacks are not treated equally or given the fair opportunity as the white man would receive. America should start being accepting of racial equality because the races will never die. Martin Luther King Jr.’s most famous speech was his “I Have a Dream” speech. His use of rhetoric in his speech was a turning point in American history and represented a strong ground for equal rights.
He couldn’t have said a more profound speech within 16 minutes. It humbles me that Martin Luther King didn’t want to just fight for the now, but for the future. He spoke out on issues that everyone else was afraid to talk about, knowing the risk he was taking, but he didn’t care. Equality meant more to him than anything else. We need more people like him in this world who are willing to sacrifice their life to have the freedom that they deserve.
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