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Rhetorical Appeals- "I Have a Dream" Speech

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Rhetorical Appeals- "I Have a Dream" Speech

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  • July 2011
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Rhetorical Appeals Assignment 

Ethos Appeal: “Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation” (King, 1963, p.1).
King made his speech at the Lincoln Memorial and referenced Lincoln’s famous speech given during the American Civil War. He also referenced the Emancipation Proclamation. King’s Lincoln reference is an ethos appeal because it shows he took the time to not only research but also give credit to trailblazers who came before him in the fight for equality.

He made this reference to demonstrate that he put a great amount of thought in preparing his speech as well as to boost his credibility as a well-educated man. This appeal also helped him earn the audience’s respect by paying his respects to the individuals who had previously fought for equal rights in America. When King mentioned Lincoln’s advancement, he was able to reach individuals that may not have respected or agree with his views but did respect and agree with President Lincoln. Acknowledging Lincoln and Lincoln’s efforts in righting a previous wrong demonstrates MLK Jr.’s upstanding, trustworthy reputation.

Pathos: “But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition” (King, 1963, p.1).

King follows his ethos appeal with a pathos appeal. He used this passage to give his audience an emotional “picture” to help them better understand what little progress had been made in the 100 hundred years that followed Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation.

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