Rhetorical Analysis of “I Have a Dream”
Racism was and still is a big issue in the United States, during the mid-20th Century, which the most prominent form of racism was that of African-Americans. Although all blacks were supposed to be free, they were victimized mercilessly by the “White Man.” Therefore blacks decided to try and increase the amount of civil rights activists and change the corrupt law system. The most famous activist of them was Martin Luther King Jr. of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, or the SCLC. Throughout the 1960s, King engaged in various civil rights boycotts and protests, helping the movement and gaining its eventual victory. Out of all of his civil rights-related efforts, the “I Have a Dream” speech, given on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom” in 1963. The speech had a massive impact as it managed to illuminate the racial problems of the time and provoke the audience into feeling sympathy while providing hope and faith to the victimized African-American population. Sadly, the speech also made King very popular, making his opponents see him as a threat, causing him to be assassinated five years later and he was unable to enjoy the fruits of his labor. The reason for “I Have a Dream’s” massive impact is due to the tense social mood of the time and that it reflects the conditions of the time, giving black activists a vision for the future. It struck directly into the hearts of blacks across America, and made whites ashamed of their actions. In just seventeen minutes, King influenced and informed generations and generations of people about racial equality and fairness. According to almost all scholars, the seventeen-minute speech is a masterpiece of rhetoric. This is obvious when analyzing the speech as one can notice that King carefully structures his speech to appeal to the different types of audiences, supporting it with the three rhetorical modes of ethos, pathos and...
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