On the day of August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. proposed an inspirational speech for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. During the civil rights movement, King’s speech brings about solace and hope to people all around the world. King is a civil rights activist who advocates change and love to all races despite the surrounding hate and believes peace and perseverance will change racism. African Americans must gain civil and economic rights and end racism this issue was King’s intentions for the “I Have a Dream” speech.
In Martin Luther King’s speech he uses rhetorical devices such as ethos, logos, and pathos to persuade America that racial injustice and racial inequality are not right; instead, make change happen.
Martin Luther King uses ethos at the beginning of his famous speech “I Have a Dream” to help prove his knowledge to the audience. King says, “Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
” This shows Americans that presidents we know also fought for black equality. It gave hope to Negros even though the Negros were still not free. MLK is referring to the sixteenth president that goes by the name of Abraham Lincoln. In 1863, President Lincoln was responsible for signing the Emancipation Proclamation to abolish slavery. He is a role model that many people look up to and by King using him, it makes the audience feel as if they are fighting for the same reason.
MLK states, “When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” This shows that the Founding Fathers wanted everyone to be equal. The Declaration of Independence is praised by most Americans and makes Americans feel it is an obligation to impose the statements in the document. He used his knowledge of history to help persuade the audience that Negros were being treated unfairly and things are not the way they supposed to be. King earned the respect and attention of the audience through his own experience. As he initiated his message about what he has seen and been through, shows his credibility.
Reasoning in “I Have a Dream” is evident and organized. Dr. King wrote this speech based on what he experienced and witnessed. He clearly experienced confinement just like everyone else did. King states, “But one hundred years later, the Negro is still not free.” MLK’s demand is directly stated on what inspired his speech. His claim is supported by the years of pain and racism felt by African Americans. He also justifies how the nation has gone back on its word in the promissory note: the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. Martin Luther King states, “It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned.” Because people’s skin is involved with rights he believes that a person should not be denied their rights because of their skin color.
The use of pathos in the “I Have a Dream” speech helps Dr. King influence his audience by appealing to their emotions. Throughout the speech, King repeated the words “I Have a Dream” and “Let Freedom Ring”. The use of repetition gave the audience hope that everything will be alright. Sympathy was shown from King towards Negros who have experienced racial inequality. King says, for example, “Negro…finds himself in exile in his own land.” The quote appeals to the audience’s emotions because of their unfair treatment. To get deep into his reader’s emotions King uses feeling words throughout his speech. Words like “guilty” and “injustice” helped MLK get to the hearts of his readers. He prompted his audience to go out and make a change using encouraging words such as “glory” and “faith”. King’s sense of emotion gave people all around the world the urge to fight for what was right.
In conclusion, August 28, 1963 history was made. A huge impact was made by appealing to the logic, emotion, and ethics of the audience by King’s use of ethos, logos, and pathos. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s strengths influenced the people of America to come together as one. Today as Americans, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is honored and respected for the major turn in the Civil Rights Movement. Because of his speech the nation would no longer tolerate racial injustice. We were all made leaders of this nation.
“Martin Luther King, Jr.: I Have a Dream.” 02 February 2019. www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkihaveadream.htm
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