Martin Luther King Jr.'s I Have a Dream Speech: Rhetorical Analysis

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Introduction “I Have A Dream” by Martin Luther King Jr. is a commonly known historical speech expresses the power of rhetoric and the influence it can have on the audience. I will be analyzing this speech as a rhetorical criticism. Explaining the historical aspect of the speech, the perspectives in which rhetoric is used and an analysis of the rhetorical aspects in the speech will be done throughout this analysis helping provide you with greater details. The historical aspect of the speech will show the importance of why this speech took place and affect of the background leading up to speeches influence on the audience. The perspective/methodology will look at the action used as the descriptive approach that was used to develop my analysis. Looking at the rhetorical techniques found throughout the speech, you can see the associations with the seven elements of descriptive analysis. The text that I choose to use for this rhetorical criticism as stated above is Martin Luther King Jr. “I Have a Dream” speech that took place in 1963. In this speech King uses descriptive details to draw in audience and help them understand King’s motive for this speech. Within this analysis it provides a deeper analysis of detailed uses of rhetorical techniques that are used throughout this speech. Historical Context King delivered this speech in August 8, 1963 on the Lincoln Memorial steps in Washington, DC as a last step in the Civil Rights Walk. The infamous March on Washington is best explained, “As blacks faced continuing discrimination in the postwar years, the March on Washington group met annually to reiterate blacks’ demands for economic equality”(History 2009). Showing African Americans wanted to gain equality, there need have not been addressed despite 100 years earlier the Emancipation Proclamation being signed. African Americans were not allowed the same civil rights as other races and they wanted to take a stand in convincing the leaders of America. “The speech was watched by more than 200,000 people assembled for the March on Washington, the largest march of the civil rights movement, as well as millions on television” (Britton 2011). The influence of this Civil Rights Walk leading to Washington, DC was that this was the place that everyone around the country would gather and hear what needed to be said. It was a place where if people wanted to have the voices heard they would have that opportunity through severely advocates.
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