Martin Luthor King Jr
Martin Luthor King Jr. was a Baptist minister and a social activist who played a major role in the American civil rights movement. He delivered this historic speech ‘I have a dream’ on August 28, 1963, to over 250,000 civil rights supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. Here, Martin demands an end to the racism in the United States of America and calls for civil and economic rights for the African American citizens. This speech was a defining aspect in the American civil rights Movement, a decades long movement with the goal of securing legal rights for African Americans that other Americans already held. (citation required?). (Overall evaluation to be done at the end) The biggest misconception that people might have is not knowing the fact that Martin delivered this speech 100 years after slavery was abolished in America, but still African American people were not granted basic civil and economic rights. In his speech, King uses a plethora of rhetorical devices and the use of pathos to appeal to his audience’s emotions; however, one flaw in King’s speech is that although he instills a sense of togetherness and hope in his speech, he is unable to provide a viable solution or path of action for the African Americans.
King begins his speech by emphasizing the Emancipation Proclamation which was signed by Abraham Lincoln which changed the status of 3 million black people from Slaves to being free. Martin reminds people of the Proclamation as ‘a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity’. He first refers to the people who were enslaved at that time, and then states that even a 100 year after this, African Americans are still being treated as slaves by white Americans. Later, he makes the audience believe that there is still hope left, using seasons as metaphors, ‘sweltering summer’ for the current situation and “invigorating autumn” for when they will be granted rights and will live peacefully, making people believe that like every season this will also end. Now, King draws attention to the urgency of the matter and calls for an end to this long-lasting oppression. He addresses the audience and urges them to not stop protesting unless they have achieved their motive, and also sets boundaries to this protest; he says, “we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds”. Furthermore, King emphasizes that people will have to invest their time in this clause with all their strength. King’s famous expression, “I have a dream” rings throughout his speech, promising hope and freedom for the African Americans more and more each time.
We can observe use of Aristotelian appeals throughout the speech. In the very beginning, “Five score years ago…signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice………….”. King Starts his speech with a strong Aristotelian appeal, Ethos, by referring to Abraham Lincoln and History, making people remember that 100 years ago Black people were promised equal rights and yet after so many years black people are still not on an equal footing with white people, by doing this King increases credibility of his speech. Throughout in his speech he keeps on referring to history of America and how equality is the very basis of the constitution of America. By doing so, audience starts to value what King is saying, because refereeing to historic facts can increase logic in your words. For example ‘architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution……. black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’
Secondly throughout Kings speech he Instills a sense of togetherness amongst the African Americans as well as between the African Americans and the rest of American society. By constantly using the word ‘we’ makes the audience believe that he is one of them, which in result increases the sense of relatability.