As he greets the crowd, his speech is obviously directly focused on the “Negroes” present. He uses his first moments speaking to establish a connection between himself and the other African Americans listening to him speak. His repetition of “100 years” contextualizes the years of struggle and oppression they have faced as a race, while the metaphor of the check serves as an example that everyone listening could comprehend whether they supported the cause or not. While still addressing the African Americans supporting the cause, he urges them not to lose heart or become complacent, warning that “This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or take the tranquilizing drug of rationalism.” By intentionally concentrating on the Black members of the audience King creates a common bond that ensures their attention and support for the remainder of the speech, and after such direct inclusion he is able to back away an...
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...fering from religious persecution all over the World. “...when all God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last, Free at last, Great God a-mighty, We are free at last.’” By making the issue not only one of race but of oppression of any of God’s children, King is able to speak to the humanity of each person listening, putting aside the color of skin and the denomination of their congregations to appeal to their souls in a way that a pastor concerned for the salvation of all involved can only do.
circumventing the tensions and meeting the expectations of all who listened that day. Successfully appeasing the majority without provoking those who were not supportive and undoubtedly giving one of the most pivotal speeches of the 20th century.
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