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Martin Luther King and Segregation

By chena421 Dec 18, 2012 521 Words
Gabriela Dominguez
English III – AP
October 4, 2011
Martin Luther King Jr. and Segregation
The Civil Rights Movement during the 1960’s led to many Americans changing their view of each other. Martin Luther King Jr. elaborately described how many Americans felt about segregation through the use of figurative language, details, imagery, and all the appeals of ethos, logos, and pathos in his speech “I Have a Dream”. First Martin L. King illustrates his dream with explicit use of literary devices. The image of “seared in the flames of withering injustice” creates a sense of burning shame in our country because of the injustice made to colored people and causes the audience to realize the brutality of this nation’s prejudice as it destroys the citizens from within (King 532). The metaphor “will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream” compares justice and righteousness to the necessity of water in one’s life and the strength it has to erase any boundaries (King 534). This comparison is appropriate because justice and water share these characteristics: power and life changing. The use of this figurative language causes the audience to realize prejudice is not only wrong but it can and will be destroyed. The inclusion of “little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls” conveys the dream of not only Mr. King but of thousands of Americans, both black and white (King 534). The speaker wants the audience to see the future of a unified country and to feel pride in one’s country as it comes together under one race, American.

Also, Rev. King plays upon the rhetorical appeals of ethos, pathos, and logos to sway the crowd of 250,000. King’s use of a telescopic sentence appears when he writes “This is our hope” which functions to emphasize the values and morals of Americans (King 535). It makes the audience understand everything they believe in and preach has not been done, thus making them hypocrites. The word “languishing” is used to express the neglect and distress colored people had experienced (King 533). It impacts the audience because it puts them in the position of the “Negroes” and makes them sympathize with what they are experiencing. The use of anaphora appears when Martin Luther King Jr. writes “Let freedom ring” which functions to emphasize the fact Americans have fought for their freedom before (King 535). It makes the audience feel the need to help their colored brothers find their freedom, in a place where they have been deprived of said freedom since the birth of this country.

“A central figure in the civil rights movement” Martin Luther King Jr. gave a speech in order to sway Congress and the country to end prejudice in the United States (Miller 532). His use of figurative language and use of the three rhetorical appeals helped him achieve his motives.

Works Cited Page
King, Martin Luther, Jr. “I Have a Dream.” The Prentice Hall Reader. Ed. Miller, George andothers. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2009, 532-535.

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