MLK, I have a Dream Rhetorical Analysis
Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his I have a Dream speech in August 28, 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington after a match to White House. This day, more than 200,000 people had matched to the White House to demand for liberty and freedom of the Black Americans in the country. The speech marked a turning point in the struggle for freedom and liberty rights in the United States, coming from the effects on the people who heard the message. Dr. Martin Luther King effectively uses skills when it comes to writing and delivering the message on this important day in history. Most importantly, he uses rhetorical skills in order to connect and inspire change on his audience. In fact, this speech marked the turning point in agitating for change in the minds of all American people. His speech indicates skills when it comes to the use of pathos, ethos and logos to prove that racism and segregation does not represent the American dream of freedom, equality and justice.
Ethos is an effective style that helps the orator connect with the audience. Dr. Martin Luther King uses different allusions to help develop ethos that make him an authority when it comes to the matters of freedom and equality. He starts his speech by talking about Lincoln noting that, “Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the emancipation proclamation” (King 1). Mentioning Lincoln in his speech helps add authority to his words, knowing that Lincoln was an American President who helped fight racism during Civil War. Therefore, Dr. King invokes the spirit of the ancestors in order to present a case in support of civil rights in the United States. He presents his message from a point of credibility, something that connects with the issue at hand. On the same note, he mentions the Declaration of Independence and the Bible to add authority to his cause.
King uses pathos to stir emotions of all the people to rise up and oppose racism and other injustices in the nation. He uses the bible verses like, “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together” (Isaiah 40:3) in order to show people that all people, white and black are to experience the same truth and liberty from God; all people will stand before God. He talks and appeals to all parents of the United States of his dream of a free society without prejudice by saying that, “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 the content of their character” (King 3). This human appeal resonates well with all people, leading to a change of mind.
Logos helps in providing logical appeal to the audience. Dr. King notes that America is not equal, that the whites and blacks are treated differently, forcing the blacks to accept their situation. According to him, Negros should not be satisfied with their current placement in the society, pointing some of the things that show inequality. For instance, he says that, “our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: “For Whites Only.” and, “America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds’” (King 3). He means that all people understand money and would know when handed a bad check.
I have a Dream marked an important turning point towards some of the freedoms that people enjoy at present. Dr. King’s use of rhetorical elements worked to inspire all people to embrace freedom and equality as the American Dream.
Isaiah, 40:3. Bible. King James Version, 1611.
King, Dr. Martin Luther. “I have a Dream”. Washington D.C., 1963.