Critical Thinking 1
Martin Luther King Jr. I Have a Dream Speech
The 1960's were a changing time for America. Soon to be gone were the conservative fifties as many post-war baby boomers became young adults. The youth of American was no longer content to continue with traditional thinking, it was a time for a revolutionary change. The changes would affect values, laws, education, lifestyles and entertainment. All of this would take place during a turbulent time for our country. The Civil Rights Movement, the Viet Nam War, Communism, war protesters, draft dodgers, political unrest and assassinations were all a part of everyday news. On August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King a Civil Rights Leader delivered a speech at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. This speech was given at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. 100 years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Lincoln. The location is referred to as "symbolic" in Dr. King's speech as he addresses the inequalities of the American Negro of the present day. When I first started reading this speech I felt it had strong tendencies towards egocentric, emotive and prejudicial thinking. This was evident to me when Dr. King began his speech by discussing the fact that the "Negro is still not free" and an "exile in his own land" and that the American people had "defaulted" on a debt to the Negro. Dr King compares our banking system to the debt owed the Negro people and the fact that America had defaulted on its obligations. After reading further I came to realize that Dr. King's analogy was an excellent way to reach out in terms we could all understand. I believe that the speech can be associated with all levels of Bloom's reasoning. Using Bloom's model the speech seems to follow the six levels of learning from knowledge through evaluation. The purpose of Dr. King's speech was to enlighten the American people by dramatizing "an appalling condition" that was...
References: to promises made one hundred years earlier that gave the Negro hope and freedom. To appeal to our sense of compassion by reminding us of the promise of equality made to each and every one of us by our forefathers. Although not in physical captivity, the Negro of the present day was a slave to poverty, discrimination and segregation. While racism was everywhere more obvious were the southern states where designated water fountains, restrooms and bus seats continued to separate the Negro and serve to remind them of their place in society. The American Negro was tired of injustice and began to protest through marches, rallies, and sit-ins. The prime example was Rosa Parks refusal to move to a seat in the rear of bus used for public transportation.
Some may have viewed Dr. King 's speech as threatening when he tells us "it would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro." Then goes on to tell us that we are in for a "rude awakening" if changes do not occur. Using the culture in 1963 Dr. King hinted at revolution but turned his words towards peace. The answer to gaining equality and freedom did not include "bitterness and hatred." As Dr. King speaks of the injustices he also speaks of trust and unity as one answer to the issues at hand. Dr. King is clear in his instruction to the audience by telling them that the only way for the Negro to succeed is through non-violence and faith that there will be a change in culture that would allow equal justice for all. Recognizing that it was through much difficulty that some of them were in attendance Dr. King tells them to go back to their homes "knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed."
Certainly the most memorable part of the speech for many would be the second half where Dr. King reveals his dream clearly and precisely. "I have a dream that one day" is the beginning of several sentences that provide inspiration and hope for the future. Using a direct quote from Thomas Jefferson, 3rd US President and author of the Declaration of Independence "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal" Dr. King implies that one hundred fifty years later it is not true. This is a clear and accurate statement that is a truism and is guaranteed by our constitution; however, throughout the history of mankind no government has ever treated all men equally. Although this is a dream of all men it 's unfortunate that it will probably never be a reality.
Dr. King only asks one direct question in his speech which was "There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" However, there were many statements made which were not direct questions but did require answers. While President Lincoln had freed the Negro from slavery, why was he still not free in his own country? The speech inferred that the American Government had not insured that the Negro was truly free and had the opportunities that were available to all free men in this country.
In summary, Dr. King 's speech does not deal with all of the complex issues surrounding freedom of the Negro. While his speech was very profound and addressed a real issue in American society, its approach and thinking was very simplistic and narrow minded. The idea of freedom is not a simple declaration or statement that someone is free. Freedom means that all parties involved have responsibilities towards each other which must be accepted and followed through. There are many far reaching changes and implications that have still not been resolved in our present day.
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