The civil rights movement was a struggle for African Americans to have equal rights in the 50s and 60s. Many important events happened during this movement, and many important figures arose as well. One of these figures was Martin Luther King Jr., a civil rights activist that was known for his great leadership. He was a powerful influencer and supporter of nonviolent actions to reach his goal. There were many different ways King appealed to American patriotism, and some of these are shown in his “I Have a Dream” speech and his “Letter from the Birmingham Jail”.
King’s “I Have a Dream” speech was very memorable for bringing great attention to the Civil Rights Movement with its theme of patriotism. One example of this patriotism is in the line, “the architects of our Republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.” King references these documents to not only show his own patriotism, but also remind everyone of what the country they’re supporting stands for. All men are created equal, and yet colored people are being treated differently just because of the color of their skin. By bringing this to attention, King is urging people to stand for their country by speaking out against the injustice going on. King also appeals to American’s patriotism by bringing up the Emancipation Proclamation, which gave freedom to slaves. King is reminding everyone of the freedom they should have, and how they shouldn’t be satisfied until they get that freedom. He also gives many examples of the lack of freedom they have, such as: “We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality.” Both of these examples from his speech, and many more, show how King appealed to American patriotism.
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Another way King appealed to American patriotism was through his “Letter from the Birmingham Jail”, where he talked about the injustice Native Americans were still facing. One example of his patriotism is through his idea of unity. He brings this up when he says, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to injustice everywhere.” The U.S. is big on the idea of equality, so it makes sense to assume that if there are problems happening in one place, it can happen anywhere else too. As long as there is still racial discrimination happening somewhere, the problem isn’t solved. King also brings up patriotism by saying, “We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom.” This gives people hope that it will one day get better and further ingrains the idea of unity and equality to every American living in the US.
Overall, Martin Luther King Jr. will never be forgotten for the powerful messages he spread across the U.S. He explained what it means to be an American, and that the rights clearly stated in American documents shouldn’t ever be taken away from anyone. He gave hope that social justice wasn’t just a dream, and urged people to stand up for their country using non-violent protests. Through all of this patriotism, the civil rights movement was an overall success. It won more legal rights for African Americans and led to a much less racist society, with a big thanks to King’s ideas that he spread to all of the nation.
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