Martin
Luther King, Jr. was the leader of civil rights in United States. He has
dedicated his life, work, and practice to the struggle for the racial equality
of African Americans. On August 28th, 1963, King gave one of his most
influencing speeches entitled “I Have a Dream.” The speech was a
critical step in his progress and success toward civil rights movement, and
without it, King’s opinions of freedom and equality would never reached the
hearts of his people and they would have never taken a stand for their rights.  During the speech, King successfully expressed
his opinions, and emotionally and personally affected many listeners using
logos, pathos and ethos.  This success
came from his sensitive approach to audience, rhetorical strategies, his usage
of diction and style, and his inspirational tone. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
delivered a powerful speech in the 1960s that every one of every generation
reads and understands, spending most of life protesting and speaking for
segregation and equality of black people’s rights, and even though many
obstacles interfered with him, he had a great deal of influence on American society
in the 1950s-1960s.

                Dr. King uses appeals and key
phrases of anaphora and allusion to make his “story” memorable; the usage of
these appeals emphasizes language pattern and increases rhetorical effect in
his speech. There are many types of different appeals he uses but the main two
are ethical and emotional appeals. He uses emotional appeals to relate with the
audience on a personal level, and set an understanding on the topics of
segregation and discrimination. “One day right there in Alabama little black
boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white
girls as sisters and brothers” (King 5). In this quotation, he demonstrates
what he hopes for the future and that there will be a time where discrimination
is no longer there. He also adds a personal note of how segregation affected
him deeply when he was growing up and since he has gone through it, he doesn’t
want his children to. “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” (King 5). In this quotation, he also uses
pathos, emotional appeal to connect with the audience. He deeply cares about
the future generations and their impact on the nation in the years to come. Dr.
Martin Luther King Jr. also used ethical/logical appeals in his speech. He uses
ethos to explain “Five score years ago, a great American, in whose
symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation.”
(King 1) He incorporates history because people looked up to previous US
presidents such as Abe Lincoln. He also uses imagery to give the audience a
vivid picture of what he is looking at as well. He appeals to his audience’s sense of nationalism, calling upon
them to achieve the universal founding ideals of the nation: liberty and
freedom.

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                Using
evidence, various rhetorical strategies, and historic/literary references in
Dr. King’s speech improves the credibility of his writing. In his essay, the
references are introduced as allusions or direct quotations/ implicitly or
explicitly. Throughout the various quotations and references in his speech, he
provided images about a future and emotionally connected with the audience
through his word usage. He also gave them hope that the nation will move
forward and succeed. One example of his efficient use of words is “I have a
dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall
be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will
be made straight, and that the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all
flesh shall see it together” (King 5). Some of the quotations and references he
used from the bible were efficient but some not very efficient.

                Dr.
King’s idea of “dream” helped awaken Americans that the idea of Civil Rights is
not covered up and kept neither isolated nor localized. With the use of
evocative, vivid language, Dr. King creates strong and memorable images. Some
of the types of rhetorical strategies he uses include allusions, metaphors,
anaphora, parallelism, repetition, and contrasting through metaphors as well.
All the rhetorical strategies King uses are an important aspect in connecting
the audience to him and what an effect he can leave on the audience. Through
his words, he had given the nation’s people hope that the future will be better
in years to come. Repetition is one of the strategies that made King’s essay
powerful and convincing. For example, the constant repeating of “I have a
Dream” and “Now is the time” helps the audience to visualize what he has in
mind and stresses the urgency of the situation. He also brings forth the
awareness that many Civil Rights laws and violations are not localized and
isolated events. In each instance King uses “I Have a Dream”, it evokes a
vision in contrast to its reality.  An
example of one powerful metaphor includes “Instead of honoring this sacred
obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has
come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank
of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds
in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash
this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the
security of justice.” (King 1-2) This passage also includes imagery. Examples
of King emphasizing and pointing out ideas through contrast include “With this
faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a
beautiful symphony of brotherhood.” (King 5) Although, the usage of many
allusions in one speech is not effective, there were some powerful and concerning
ones. For example, “Five score years ago, a great American, in whose
symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation”
(King 5). This allusion is good in the concept of ethos but it can distract the
audience from the main theme of justice and nationalism. On the other hand,
“My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing, land
where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside,
let freedom ring!” (King 6) This is a good and effective allusion.

                During the
1950s and 1960s in American History, America was on the edges of racism and
segregation, making the lives of many blacks miserable and worthless. This is
where “I Have a Dream,” played a major role into changing it. He managed to
convince and inspire a many blacks to never give up and made thousands of white
Americans sorrowfully ashamed of their actions. King uses a variety of
strategies in order to convey his idea across and reach the hearts of people. King
demonstrated sensitivity by selecting controversial topics such as racial
rights, freedom and liberty. At the time, this was an issue not only to the
black community, but also to rest of the world. In many of the quotations, we
could see he was not only referring to the black people but everyone in the
audience.  Furthermore, King tried to
approach his audience through their emotions/pathos.  He described his vivid and emotion-like dreams
in which blacks and whites are able to live together in harmony and peace and
ends his speech on a note of hope. The audience was obviously deeply touched by
these images, and they could all imagine what a new and blissful world they
could be living in.