Rhetorical Analysis: I Have a Dream

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Rhetorical Analysis: “I Have a Dream”

On August 28, 1963 Martin Luther King delivered a speech that was crucial to the civil rights movement. His audience was comprised of 250,000 people that traveled to the Lincoln Memorial. King’s speech, “I have a dream” will be forever remembered for its impact on the Civil Rights movement. Throughout the speech he uses many rhetorical devices such as solidification, mobilization, and different appeals to bond his audience. King uses revolutionary theatre as a form of solidification to get his point across. He points out the problems of the society in the first half of the speech then motivates his audience to take control. He makes references to the past with the Emancipation Proclamation by acknowledging Abraham Lincoln’s efforts to bring about change to the freedom of slaves. He reacts to the Emancipation Proclamation stating “One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.” (King, 1963) Although Lincoln had brought light to the issue of slavery, segregation was still evident. The Declaration of Independence states that both black and white men are guaranteed “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” (King, 1963) King appeals to his white audience and motivates them to take action. King makes an effort to practice non-violent resistance to fight for equality. By doing so, his actions along with his followers lead to peace rather than violence. “In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not feel guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.” (King, 1963) By persuading his audience through nonviolent means adds to the success of the Civil Rights movement. King’s peaceful approach strives to unite the nation rather than directly attack a group or individual.

King’s speech strives to persuade the audience to come together to reach a...
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