Use of Logos, Ethos and Pathos by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


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Alleged by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his “I Have A Dream” speech on August 28, 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. Dr. King said “This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. Meaning there shall be equality between one another. Dr. King grew up around pastors in a Baptist Church, so when he gave his speeches he sounded like a preacher. He was a well-educated person who graduated from Boston University and received his Doctorate degree. Plus he was a strong worker for civil rights for members of his race. Being a strong worker and having knowledge of civil rights made him more of a confident and convincing speaker. Therefore, In Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, he pointed out to African Americans, that in the near future the African Americans would have equal rights and liberty like all the other Caucasians have. In this speech I have found Dr. King using logos, ethos, and pathos to get his attention across about equality and to make his speech sound more effective. Out of the three rhetorical appeals I have found that Dr. King used ethos the most predominately followed by the second most effective, pathos, and how King is a convincing speaker to his audience.

Dr. King announced the “I Have A Dream” speech in front of 200,000 African American families and to a few Caucasians who were at the scene of his speech. Dr. King’s speech was mainly addressed to the African Americans, to explain one day there will be equality in all Caucasians and other ethnicities such as; Hispanics, Native Americans and Asian Americans. Therefore at the time of his speech, his audiences were to the 200,000 people who attended the speech but he was also referring to all other ethnicities as well. To his audience for example, he said as the future years pass, the hardship they are going through would pay off for the future children. For example, in his speech he said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be jugged by the color of their skin but by their content of character.

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” In this quote he was saying that when his children grow up there will be equality and no misjudgments between one another. Then further in his speech he also has said, “And when this happens, when we allow, freedom to ring…we will be able to speed up that day when all of god’s children…will be able to join hands”. He has stated the purpose of knowing one day everyone will come together no matter what nationality they are. Hence he was not just speaking up for the African Americans but in addition to the other ethnics.

In this speech, ethos was used the most predominately. I found it to be the most used because he would quote words from the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and song lines concerning the equality for the Americans. Which made his point that even in the words of the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and in songs, they say everyone shall be treated with the same respect and the United State presidents should obey the words of the Constitution, Declaration of Independence and song lines and follow through on it. For example, in this quote King declared, “the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. In this note was a promise that all men, yes, black men, as well as white men, would be guaranteed the inalienable rights or life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. This quote has summed up that there should be equal rights between one another and the U.S should follow what has been written in the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. Another example of how King quoted a song would be, “My country ‘tis of thee, sweet land of liberty of thee I sing, Land where my father died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride, from every mountain side, let freedom ring!” He wanted this statement to come true and to have the children of different ethnicities sing together with meaning, the way the song is suppose to mean.

Other than ethos being the most predominate, pathos was also a predominate way of getting the audiences attention. King put a lot of emotion in his speech therefore it was pathos. As well as gathering the audience’s attention and having feeling for the way African Americans are being treated. For example, when he kept saying, “I have a dream…” the audience could feel the strength King had in his speech and how determined he was of having equality. Another, word that was repetitive also, that had a lot of meaning was when he said, “let freedom ring…”. This quote let the audience know that one-day freedom will ring and equality will be presented. Consequently these two phrases were said with so much emotion that even the audience had felt what King was feeling. Therefore, I thought having pathos in his speech was very inspiring and made more meaning to his speech than speaking with no emotion at all.

In conclusion, King gave a strong and persuasive speech, which caught the eyes and emotion of the audience. King was talking about how one-day people will live together where race is not an issue and all ethnicities will get to go to school with all different ethnics as well. Overall I don’t think there was a fallacy in this speech or any other persuasion that needed to be improved, because I feel he has said what he had to, about becoming equal and made his peace. What made it have no fallacies was using ethos as the main attention getter, and most of all the proof of the written Constitution and Declaration of Independence to show that it does say there should be equal treatment. After all using ethos and pathos just made his speech more powerful and persuasive.



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