The Power of Words
Plato once described rhetoric as the, “art of enchanting the soul.” When I read Martin Luther Kings’ I Have A Dream speech, the power of his words stayed with me. His use of simple compelling words such as; exile, brotherhood, freedom, dream, and now show he knew how to connect with America. King spoke with such electricity and power, yet was able to control the mood of his listeners.
One powerful phrase that reflects the emotional state of America in 1963 is, “One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land." The word exile paints a picture of a lost people, of a people being overlooked, treated as invisible or inferior. It brings more to mind, thoughts of loneliness and segregation. I see a black child on a playground not invited to join in a game. I see a woman with packages, not offered help and a man overlooked for a job.
Two sentences give compelling guidance, “The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges. “and, “Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.” The first clearly and inoffensively gives America a warning that all people must come together. The use of the word revolt is alarming; however he immediately uses the image of a brighter day to counteract any defensive response. On the other side, as he is giving his warning to America he is commanding those seemingly in exile, not to rise to violence. He is encouraging them to rise above the violence, including police brutality, and keep the peace.
It is the last paragraph, as he speaks of all people coming together to sing, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!" where his emotions and the emotions of the crowd raise goose bumps on my flesh. With those words, he makes the statement, we are free, and although, at that moment...
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