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Rhetorical Analysis of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s I Have A Dream Speech

Decent Essays
Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech to the thousands of African Americans who had marched on Washington, D.C. at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. The date of the speech was August 28, 1963, but it is one that will live for generations. Of course his purpose was to convince his audience on several fronts: he sought to persuade the black community to stand up for the rights afforded them under the Constitution, and he also sought to demonstrate to the white community that a "simple" black man could so effectively use powers of persuasion that they too would have reason to join the cause.

He stated in his opening sentence that the event at which he spoke
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King is about to make. His purpose was not to further divide, but to unite.

Abraham Lincoln is the central figure, it was his purpose to preserve the Union. It is Dr. King's purpose to call for unity of the people. It is only within this framework that Dr. King can make his next statement and still retain the white portion of his audience. Though ostensibly speaking to the black population, it is the white portion that controls the ability to effect any real changes. Without the allusion to Abraham Lincoln, Dr. King's statement that "the Negro still is not free" would have served to divide the people, rather than unite them in purpose and in truth.

Dr. King exercises the strategy of pathos in his statement, "Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all God's children". As he referred earlier to the truth embodied in Abraham Lincoln, so he now references a greater, even more enduring truth: words written in the Bible. Dr. King appeals to logic. Employing the technique of logos he

continues, "We must forever conduct our struggle on
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