Martin Luther King’s use of allusions to historical documents helps his message of equality hit home for his audience. Most of the allusions were geared more towards the white people that it was towards the blacks because it provided printed evidence from past documents that were written by white males. His first, “Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation” is an allusion to Abraham Lincoln and the Gettysburg Address. His first reference to the Declaration of Independence: “This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men would be guaranteed the ‘unalienable rights’ of ‘Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness’.” Another quote King uses from the Declaration of Independence is not quite as publicized, King incidentally slips in, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” King also makes a few allusions to the Bible; “...
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... would be treated as equals and walk hand-in-hand with every one of every color. Martin Luther King, Jr. implies that his dream is none other than the dream of the Founding Fathers which he makes reference to several times during his speech. And ending with another powerful anaphora, “let freedom ring” King look joyfully towards the day where “all God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentile, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing” because he knows this is movement is greater than just for those of color.
By expressing his emotions on the subject of racism, Kings persuasive speech influenced and impacted America, for the better in the early 1960’s. With his many uses of different rhetorical devices such as allusions, metaphors and smiles, and anaphoras Kings speech truly changed the minds of hundreds of thousands of people.
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