The Lasting Power of Dr. King's Dream Speech

On August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a public speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in front of thousands. This speech would go on to be known as the most famous speech in history, it is known as the “I Have a Dream” speech. In this speech, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. recited his perspective on segregation at one of the most significant civil rights rallies in history. King’s intentions were to let people know that racism must come to an end and African Americans must gain civil and economic rights.

The way King initiated his message through the use of rhetorical devices, pathos, ethos, and logos, allowed his audience to hear and connect with his message sufficiently.

The use of pathos in this speech leaves the audience with a sense of compassion and empowerment. This speech is clearly delivered with great passion that allows the audience to feel determined. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. appeals to his audience by using a verse from the book of Isaiah to stress that faithfulness and unity are vital to seek for equality.

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Furthermore, he uses his own desire of the American Dream to enable the audience to correlate with his message. Incorporating the American Dream permits his audience to relate to something that everyone longs for and expresses that we all deserve freedom. King’s use of repetition with the phrase “Now is the time…” allows his audience to feel empowered to take action. In this speech, King uses his personal reference for being a father to emphasize that he wants nothing but the best for his children.

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People who are parents like King will associate with him as a father and the dreams parents have for their children. When giving such an important speech at such a big event, it is important to be an expert on the topic you are speaking about.

King begins his speech by providing an insight into his vision of a future that includes freedom, non-discrimination, and long-lasting happiness. In his speech, King frequently looks back at moments in American history and refers to the leaders who laid the foundation of free America. This adds ethos to his speech. However, King’s speech is also rich in imagery and his phrases frequently paint the picture of a beautiful dream-like nation where unity and peace abound. King dreamt of a cohesive society that would not easily fall prey to discrimination or stay divided along lines of color. King’s biggest disgust is that the promises made during the time of Lincoln never became reality and instead African Americans have been being fed only fake promises. His reference to the Emancipation Proclamation and its promises also adds ethical appeal to the speech.

Throughout the speech, King refers to a credible source, Abraham Lincoln. He goes on to declare that he is grateful for the remarkable abolishment of slavery and acknowledges his signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. He also continuously refers to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. He states that time and time again, they refuse to stand by their promises to the people. Using these references enables his audience to trust and respect what he is delivering to them. Martin Luther King uses logos to persuade his audience to fight for equality. King refers to the Emancipation Proclamation which freed all slaves. However, the Negro is still not free. He proves this with reference of segregation and police brutality towards African Americans. Another use of logos is when King emphasizes that not all white people are against African Americans. Therefore, they should not be stereotyped because some realize that justice should be for everyone no matter your color and will stand with you to fight against segregation. Throughout the speech, King also logically alludes to discrimination and segregation and how nothing will be rectified till it’s been put to an end. The “I Have a Dream” speech was a climax for American history.

While the speech is splendid in terms of its use of imagery and thought-provoking phrases, the speech is highly emotional in tone. King did not want the African American people to lose sight of the dream of complete freedom which was possible only when they were given the same rights as the whites in American society. This speech helped solidify African Americans and white people to stand for equal rights. By King standing up and speaking out for what he believed in, today we are able to be unified. Although he passed away before things were acted upon, with this speech he was able to help save everyone’s freedom and individualism, and the goal once envisioned by Martin Luther King was achieved. The usage of rhetorical devices, pathos, ethos and logos, is what made this speech indelibly and influential.

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The Lasting Power of Dr. King's Dream Speech. (2020, Sep 13). Retrieved from

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