In I Have a Dream (1963), Martin Luther King Jr. justifies the importance of African Americans’ civil rights in the United States where many white citizens of the free nation criticize and oppress people who are not the same color as they are. King’s purpose is portraying to his audience, with great confidence, that there will be great opportunities for the future generations, both black and white, because of the actions they took at that time. Throughout the speech, he adopts an optimistic tone in order to unite people and stand for his cause, saying all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing (42).
Martin Luther starts his famous speech by stating the fact that blacks are not free and are still being treated unjustly a hundred years after the civil war is over. He appeals to their sense of unity by stating that the community of black people are on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity (3) and that one hundred years later, the life of the negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation (3). He reflects on his and the audience’s history in this time in order to emphasize that nothing has changed, the negro still is not free (3). This contemplation upon history conveys a sympathetic tone for his fellow brothers and sisters about how their race has overcome so many obstacles and hardships. Emphasizing one hundred years later, King uses anaphora to portray that after a whole century of freedom, negro lives in a country where they are dramatized in a shameful condition (3).
He then shifts to addressing the idea that blacks have been denied liberty and that their current situation is urgent and can only be solved through the delivery of justice. He then uses the metaphor, we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check (4), to compare a check to their equal civil rights and that America has given the negro people a bad check (4). He refuses that the bank of justice is bankrupt (5) in order to ignite his audience’s confidence in their nationalistic plans to unite all people and stating that Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick-sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood (6). This gain in moral support conveys a forthright tone that tells the black people that there is change that needs to happen and that it needs to happen now. Martin Luther uses a metaphor relating their situation to a bank so that the audience will understand his ideas as well as further simplify the topic.
Next, King says that there is nothing to feel bad about trying to gain your rights. Furthermore, he states that whites and blacks’ freedom is interconnected, and there is no turning back from the issue. He then urges them to always march ahead (11) portraying their strength and loyalty to one another and that their communities are not alone. He illustrates to them a sense of unity, not just with the negro community, but also with their white brothers so they realize their destiny is tied up with our destiny (9). With the reinforcement of white brothers, King portrays a vibrant tone for all supporters of equal rights and how they should stand strong together and never quit to the enemy. To exemplify his main point, he uses the connection to the reader’s pathos. He uses emotion by making a reference to religion to join people together and create a sense of unity.
The speaker then shifts to the question that most people ask them about their civil rights, When will you be satisfied? and presents the answer to the question that they will never be justified with the current situation that they have. He appeals to their urgency of change by stating that we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream (13). He asks them to help him and his fellow brethren back to their cities where the ghettos and slums are, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed (14). Martin Luther King once again uses anaphora as in the first section saying, we can never to further illustrate how they cannot stay at the situation where our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating, For Whites Only’ (13).
Rounding up, he says his hopes and dreams for the future of the United States, how it will affect the youth, and how they will treat each other. He appeals to their hope and dreams for their future illustrating that, one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood (18). He continues to state that he dreams of bringing black and white people together without criticism and tension. King uses a pleasant tone to reassure his audience that they want to live with white people in harmony not drive them away. Multiple ethics as well as emotional ties is used to connect more with the audience by making himself credible while also including emotion to make him more believable and trustworthy.
Finally, he shares his dream, with confidence that for every hill, mountain, and slope, freedom should be heard all across the vast country and that everybody should be hearing it. All people of different race and different religions. King proclaims that freedom should ring from every corner of the country appealing to their relationship with one another regardless of race and religion. King concludes his speech with an inspiring and influential tone to guarantee his audience that they will continue to assimilate the boundaries of segregation. He also uses anaphora and pathos to highlight the fact that most of their struggles have gone behind them and the future is glistening with freedom. In Kings’ conclusion, he says, Free at Last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (44)
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