I HAVE A DREAM! In an era when racial discrimination and public bigotry towards African Americans in the United States was becoming more evident, this simple, but powerful statement by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a beacon of hope for all African Americans in the country. In his speech, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Dr. King expresses his frustration that after a hundred years since the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, African Americans are still treated like second-class citizens. However, Dr. King also expresses his hope that the status quo will change and African Americans around the country will be “free at last.” Dr. King uses eloquent statements to appeal to his audience’s emotions and to see the difficulties and hardships that African Americans across the country suffer on a regular basis. Dr. King makes use of sound rhetorical devices to convey his message that “all men are created equal” and that racism should not, cannot continue if the nation is to prosper.
Upon opening his speech, Dr. King makes reference to past events: the Gettysburg Address and the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, works both by Abraham Lincoln that ensured that freedom in the United States will endure. “Five score years ago, a great American… signed the Emancipation Proclamation, [which] came as a great beacon of hope to millions of Negro slaves.” Dr. King does this in order to grasp his audience’s attention and to outline that after a century since the freeing of African American slaves, the Negro race is still treated no differently. He goes on to state that African Americans are “exiled in their own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.” This powerful message implies that no longer will African Americans sit idly by while their civil liberties and human rights are trampled on by racists and bigots or ignored by the government.
Dr. King uses connotations, words such as slaves, injustice, freedom, and hope, to appeal to his audience’s emotions and to stress the importance that public treatment of African Americans must be changed to accommodate the prosperity of our growing nation. “[Negro slaves] have been seared in the flames of withering injustice.” “This is our hope… That [whites and blacks] will be able to stand up for freedom together.” He also makes use of connotat...
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... skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream that one day… little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls. I have a dream today.” King also uses parallelism to emphasize that the nation must come together to “let freedom ring” for every American from every corner of the country.
Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech is one of the greatest and most influential speeches written in the modern day. His use of connotations, hyperbole, and metaphor appealed to his audience’s sense of logic, morality, and just plain old common sense “that all men are created equal” and to deny this is to deny the intention of the creator. Further, Dr. King’s use of parallelism allowed him to drive his point across “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” and that the country must be transformed into a nation of tolerance, acceptance, and peace. His use of sound rhetorical devices allowed him to sway his audience to change the “status quo” and enable all Americans to be truly “free at last.”
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