Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream": Critical Thinking Analysis Charles Briscoe
16 October 2012
In Martin Luther King Jr.'s seminal 1963 speech "I Have a Dream," King uses a number of critical thinking processes in order to present his argument. On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, King delivered a speech that is remembered now as one of the most significant pieces of oratory in the 20th century. His call was for blacks and whites to come together, for blacks to be granted greater freedoms and for America to become a nation of equals. Not only was the speech thought-provoking and emotional, but King's points were excellently handled and deftly conveyed through his use of language and literary thinking.
In the first part of his speech, King includes everyone who listens in a grateful, yet unified, proclamation that identifies him with his audience; "I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation" (lines 1-3). In this way, and throughout the speech, King offers very little egocentric thinking; this speech is not about him, and he refers to himself in the singular very little - this is reserved for the eventual utterance and repetition of "I have a dream," which is followed by his hopes and aspirations for the future of race relations. This repetition allows for greater visualization, and to create the metaphor of better race relations as a desirable hope ("dream") for the future. This dream imagery is meant to offer a positive reinforcement of his goals - bringing about racial equality would make his dreams come true. At the same time, his earlier unwillingness to self-identify implies that the dream is not just his - it is ours.
Another fantastic element to King's speech is that he cites well-respected and historical documents in the history of the country. The Emancipation Proclamation, the Declaration of...
References: Bloom, Harold. (1973). The Anxiety of Influence.
King, Martin Luther. (1963). "I Have a Dream."
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