Rhetorical Oration In King's I Have A Dream Speech

Decent Essays

King’s “I Have a Dream” oration stands out in American history due to its ability to use graceful language for forceful impact. King seamlessly weaved together an amalgam of stylistic strategies to fill a stark canvas of hate with vibrant hope. When considering the text, King’s “I Have a Dream” speech employs contrast to make a moral argument against racial discrimination and call for unity around democratic ideals. By using contrast to develop metaphors, highlight existing conditions of injustice, and construct religiously virtuous arguments, King roused the collective conscience of the American people and challenged them to pursue social change. King’s use of contrast begins almost immediately, as he defines the rhetorical situation to which he is responding. At the commencement of the oration, King notes that the occasion “will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation,” (King 1). By doing so, King establishes the March on Washington as a day that will stand out from the discourse of hate that the United States had been experiencing. To further lay the groundwork for his message, King explains that the Emancipation Proclamation was a “momentous decree” and “a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves,” (King 1). In this way, King contrasts the goals of the Emancipation Proclamation with the disappointing ends that it has achieved. King laments, a century has passed and “the Negro is still badly crippled by the

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